After Christmas Sale on Teachers Pay Teachers

Use Promo code C2N5Y to get 15% off on everything through Jan. 2nd, 2011 on teacherspayteachers.com

In addition to the site's sale, I'm having a special on my shipped goods!

To thank all of you for being excellent customers throughout the year, from December 26th through January 2nd buy any CD or bookmark (any shipped product) and receive a FREE bookmark and Bonus Lessons CD! You can find my shipped goods here: hard goods or go directly to my TeachersPayTeachers store.  

The bonus lessons CD contains numerous graphic organizers, writing prompts, reading assessments, and more. 

Thanks, again, and have a Happy New Year!


Live & Learn and Pass It On... Life Lessons of the Characters from The Hunger Games

The rainbow after the storm. Erie, IL Photo by T. Orman
Throughout the school year I like to share "life lessons" from former students and excerpts from H. Jackson Brown Jr.'s book Live & Learn and Pass It On.  If you've never read the book, chances are you may have received an email with a few of the "lessons" people (ages 5 to 95) have shared.  Some examples are:

"I've learned that being a teenager is as hard on your parents as it is on you." -Age 13
"I've learned that you should be careful when sitting down in a chair that has rollers." -Age 72
"I've learned as a sixth grade teacher that when I send more than two boys to the restroom at a time, the principal usually ends up bringing them back." -Age 34
"I've learned that I shouldn't inhale through my nose when I'm eating a powdered doughnut." -Age 51
"I've learned that you don't really know a person until you've made them mad." -Age 22
"I've learned that the more you're in a hurry, the longer it takes to get your locker open." -Age 13
"I've learned that when my older sister says she'll be out of the bathroom in five minutes, I should just sit down and


Teachers Pay Teachers New Link

Somehow my teacherspayteachers link was changed, so I'm posting a new link here:


Make sure to bookmark it so you can quickly find all my FREE lessons & activities, as well as all my Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay resources!

Use my Hunger Games Powerpoint to introduce the novel and provide visual aides as you read!  It can be purchased separately on a CD or on the bundle of lessons on my Hunger Games Teaching Unit CD.


Mockingjay Makes the List: "Otherworldly: The Year's Most Transporting Books"

"If we burn, you burn with us" By Feral-Neko, deviantart.com 
NPR (National Public Radio) lists Mockingjay as one of the year's most "transporting" books.  The authors of the six books on the list were able to create other worlds or "alternative realities" in which the readers never wanted to leave.  They praise the authors for using simple, clear language to lure the reader into the story without "tedious exposition."

Congratualtions, once again, Suzanne Collins, for more props for your Hunger Games trilogy!

Read the entire article here:

Artwork shown can be found on deviantart.com here: http://fav.me/d2yzzx2


Let the Awards Keep Rolling in for Mockingjay...

What a year it has been for author Suzanne Collins! Here are some of her recent accomplishments and awards for Mockingjay, the third and final book of the Hunger Games series:

Notable Children's Books of 2010
for Mockingjay

Best books of 2010: children's books - "Mockingjay," by Suzanne Collins - CSMonitor.com

LA Times Holiday Gift-Giving Guide


Suzanne Collins Makes EW's Top 15 Entertainers of the Year 2010

Image credit: Todd Plitt/Contour by Getty Images

Kudos to Entertainment Weekly (EW) for recognizing Suzanne Collins as one of the Top 15 Entertainers of the Year for 2010. (Number 13, to be exact.)  It's great to see that they recognize the power of her Hunger Games trilogy; of course Stephen King was the one who introduced us all to Katniss's world in his EW book review back in 2008.

It's a well-deserved honor, so congratulations, Suzanne Collins!


Connecting The Hunger Games to the Holocaust

Spoiler Alert:  Because my posts are going to focus mainly on using The Hunger Games trilogy in your classroom, there will be spoilers.  So please be warned if you have yet to read the novels!  And if you haven't read them, what in the world are you waiting for!? 

In an earlier post I mentioned there were many ways teachers could relate the material in the novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins with World War II, Hitler, and the Holocaust.  The purpose of this post is to explore some of those connections students can make or you could point out.

As fellow teacher Carol Ann pointed out in a previous comment, one of the first connections we may make is to ancient Rome and the gladiator games where people would watch others fight to the death for entertainment.  And there are certainly plenty of allusions to this time period and society to support those connections.  Suzanne Collins admits she was inspired by Roman gladiators for the basis of the Hunger Games in an online interview on Scholastic Books' Hunger Games website.

I do like to have the students make connections to ancient Rome when they learn early on what the Hunger Games are.  But as we get further into the novel, I also like to connect it to more recent events/times, such as the Holocaust.  I think it helps students realize how easily we can be manipulated into believing murder is acceptable, and even necessary, to sustain or better our way of life.  Adolf Hitler wanted to establish a "New Order," which included domination (and extermination) of many groups of people.  As a result, millions of innocent people died in the Holocaust, including over six million of Jewish faith.
Photo courtesy of: http://israelchildren.co/The_Holocaust.html

While the Holocaust may not have been a public form of entertainment like the Games, the millions of children, women, and men who died were killed by those who were either forced to kill or it was their job and they willingly did it.  These murderers may have been the victims' peers, or their neighbors, and maybe even their friends.  Did they want to kill them?  Did they do it because they had to or because it meant their life was spared? Or were they brainwashed by the political propaganda they were fed and believed they were superior to the Jewish people and other minorities?  As you force your students to look at both perspectives, they should see that Katniss and the other tributes are put into the same position many German soldiers and citizens were: kill or be killed.



Defense for Teaching The Hunger Games to Those Who Oppose It

As the popularity of teaching The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins grows, the opposition also increases.  The most common reason, I've heard, is the violence in the novel is inappropriate for young adults.  The trilogy is listed as appropriate for ages 12 and up.

I am not going to argue that there isn't violence in the novel because it is essentially a trilogy about war--and the horrors of war--so, of course, there is obviously violence.  What I will argue is that there must be a portrayal of violence in order to teach that violence does not solve our problems and is unethical.

Anytime a lesson is to be learned, the objectionable behavior must be displayed to teach that it is wrong.  For example, our school has staged a couple of Operation Prom Night reenactments to show the students what could happen if you drink (or text) and drive.  Students are shown doing these acts and suffering terrible consequences.  Without showing the bad behavior, the reenactment would be much less effective.

If Katniss & Peeta Celebrated Thanksgiving...

If the characters of The Hunger Games trilogy celebrated Thanksgiving, what would they be thankful for?  Post your comments below.

And you can check out my free Mockingjay lesson related to Katniss's coping technique.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Teaching The Hunger Games

If you are looking for a novel to teach in your middle or high school classroom, I highly recommend you try The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

I began teaching it to a group of reluctant readers (mostly boys) in my general/remedial English I class in the fall of 2009.  The majority of the class bragged that they hated to read and pretty much faked it all through middle school.  As teachers, we all know these kids are out there; they are usually the ones staring out the window or bouncing in their seats because the words on the page are the last thing they want to be looking at.

I knew it would be a long year if I didn't find something that I could "hook" them with right away.  Usually I entice the group with a hero unit pairing Homer's The Odyssey with the "Star Wars" saga.  But these kids had no interest whatsoever in "Star Wars," let alone The Odyssey.  My mention of our Sherlock Holmes Mystery unit sent me looks of boredom.  We read "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell, which, normally, kids love.  It was OK, but not enough hunting, they said.

It had only been a little over a week into school and I was already scrambling for something to engage these kids.  What on earth was I going to do the rest of the year?

That weekend I went home dreading the daunting task of coming up with new lessons for The Odyssey.  I knew I would have to have a lot of hands-on activities because these boys could barely stay seated for five minutes at a time.  So I did what I tend to do when I am faced with a challenging task...I procrastinate!

I decided it was time I lost myself in a good book and went to my stack of summer purchases from Amazon that were waiting patiently on my night stand to be read.  Toward the bottom was a book I bought after reading Stephen King's review of it in Entertainment Weekly.  But when it came, I was busily reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series; a dystopian novel about a female hunter who competes in some game had nothing over Edward and Jacob...or so I thought.

Then it hit me...the narrator is a hunter.  If anything, I thought, maybe I can try to relate to these boys by looking at things from this hunter's perspective.

It took about five pages, then I was hooked.  I could not put The Hunger Games down.  The more I read, the more I kept thinking how perfect it would be for my class.  I finished it the next day and quickly logged on to my Amazon account and pre-ordered Catching Fire.  Then I started thinking of all the great activities I could do with my class: a class reaping, survival games, and skills training stations (where they would teach the class various skills such as creating snares and traps, archery, knot-tying, and even, perhaps, martial arts).  The possibilities seemed endless.

And the learning opportunities were (and still are) innumerable, as well. The novel is rich with figurative language, easily creating teaching moments using metaphors, similes, personification, hyperbole, symbolism, idioms, and so much more.  Even though it is set in the future, the students could connect similarities in the novel to the past and present.  We had rich discussions about government control and terms such as desensitization.

The most amazing aspect of this unit was that my students were eager to come to class, and while we were reading the novel (which we read out loud in class), they were focused, seated, engaged.  They begged each day to read.  They loved the activities.  They did not mind the tests or quizzes or vocabulary work.  They fell in love with Katniss's story.  And, most importantly, they realized that reading truly could be an enjoyable activity.

Linked: http://effectiveteachingarticles.blogspot.com/p/reading-workshop-linky-party.html
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