The "WOW" Factor of Nature by Guest Blogger Amy of "Science Stuff"

The following article is by guest blogger Amy Brown from "Science Stuff." You may be wondering what science has to do with The Hunger Games. Well, a lot, actually. If you are looking for ways to cross your curriculum with the science department (or history department) while teaching the trilogy, read my notes at the end of Amy's article. 

Science Stuff by Amy on www.hungergameslessons.com
  Meet Amy Brown!

Amy is the author of the blog called “Science Stuff”.  Amy has 27 years of teaching experience in high school biology, chemistry, and AP biology.  Her blog is about ways to make your class more engaging and exciting for the students.  You can find her blog at:  http://sciencestuffbyamy.blogspot.com/
The “WOW” Factor of Nature
Connecting Science and ELA through collaborative learning projects on www.hungergameslessons.comThis past week in my biology class was spent on a unit on classification and taxonomy.  This is one of my favorite topics to teach because the diversity of life on Earth is so incredible and amazing.  Just now, I am sitting at my kitchen table looking out over our large back yard.  The evidence of adaptation to our current environment astounds me.  I am making a list to share with my students on Monday:

1.   A hummingbird is at my feeder.  (Yes, in the deep south, we already have hummingbirds back from the winter.)  Its beak is perfectly adapted to extract the nectar from any flower.

2.   The bees are very active this morning, buzzing in and out of every flower in sight.  Flowering plants take advantage of the bee, and cover its body with pollen every time it lands on a flower.  What a perfect way to deliver a sperm cell to an egg cell of a flower a block away.

3.   The birds are singing like crazy this morning!  What a perfect way to find a mate and establish behavioral barriers between the species.

Connecting Science and ELA through collaborative learning projects on www.hungergameslessons.com
4.   I can see beetles who are perfectly camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings.

5.  The fruiting bodies of mushrooms are poking up from the ground to take advantage of the deluge of rain we have had this week.  Water will spread their spores to great distances.

6.  A great blue heron is wading at the edge of our shallow pond.  Its body is perfectly adapted for wading and grabbing up the small fishes it sees.

It is an amazing time of the year to be a science teacher.  Nature is packed full of examples that we can share with our students.  I certainly hope that my students come away from this unit with the same "awe" as I have when considering how natural selection has brought us to this point in Earth's history.  Every organism in our sight is adapted to this particular environment.  All we have to do is to look carefully at our surroundings and we will see a multitude of examples of adaptation.
Connecting Science and ELA through collaborative learning projects on www.hungergameslessons.com

My challenge to you is this:  When Spring hits your particular area of this beautiful earth, take a class period and go outside with your students.  Give them a magnifying glass.  Have them make a list of the living organisms they see, and have them describe how they are adapted to the environment.  Yes, some of them will be "off task" and some of them will misbehave, but some of them will get hooked on nature for life!   I teach high school students, and I am stunned each year at how few of them have ever planted a seed, taken a walk through the woods, hung a bird feeder at their home, thrown "helicopter" seeds into the air and watched them spin, watched a spider spin a web, the list could go on and on!

These children will be responsible for making decisions about our planet in just a short number of years. We better get them excited about nature.  We better make sure they understand how their actions impact our planet. Our students are the future caretakers of this beautiful planet and there is not an "app" for that.  I hope that when they are adults we have taught them enough about science and nature that they can make informed decisions about how to take care of it.

I hope that you will visit my blog and become a follower.  My blog is called "Science Stuff" and can be reached here:  http://sciencestuffbyamy.blogspot.com/

My blog has links to quite a few FREE products that can be fun activities for both middle and high school science students.  I hope to see you there!

Thanks so much, Amy, for this great article. We all need to take time to appreciate nature and talk with students about caring for all life on earth, especially now.

Connection to The Hunger Games Trilogy
   Team up with a science teacher while teaching the novel; chances are you can find many ways to integrate The Hunger Games into the science curriculum. For example, Amy points out taking time to go outside and notice and appreciate nature with your students: Find evidence of the diversity of life. 

Connecting Science and ELA through collaborative learning projects on www.hungergameslessons.com
  The mockingjay bird is evidence in The Hunger Games trilogy of a species that was never meant to exist, but adapted to its environment. Ask your students these questions:
  -Why did the Capitol only create male jabberjays?
  -What traits did the mockingjay get from the jabberjay? From the mockingbird?
  -What are some examples of real-life "mutts" or naturally cross-bred (or hybrid?) species?
  -How does this cross-breeding make life stronger? (Segue into biodiversity.)

 In Mockingjay, the topic of biodiversity is addressed several times. In my unit, I have students discuss why biodiversity is important for sustaining life. Then I go a step further and have them consider genetic diversity  in humans. I ask them to consider the following:  "If it makes us stronger to diversify our genes, does that mean being racist is ultimately making us much weaker as humans?" This is another Holocaust tie-in, as well. Hitler's idea of limiting diversity to create a stronger "Aryan" race was actually doing the opposite. (You can get the history/social studies department in on The Hunger Games, as well.)  

  Crossing and relating your curriculum to your colleagues' allows students to see the value in learning about science and history. It does affect their lives, even if it takes reading about fictional characters to understand that. And if you are a science or history teacher reading this, don't be afraid to ask your English/reading teaching what novels they are reading in class in order to find ways to connect your curriculum with theirs. 

Classroom Connections: Link Science and ELA through collaborative learning projects on www.hungergameslessons.com



Purchase The Hunger Games Teaching Unit Now for Only $14.99

Time is running out to get my Hunger Games Teaching Unit for just $14.99.My unit is aligned with the Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts and has well over 300 pages of materials.

For the past three years that I've been selling it, I have increased the amount of materials in the unit, only increasing the price once. Anyone who has already purchased it can get a FREE updated download at any time on their TeachersPayTeachers account.  I've always believed that the materials should be affordable for teachers and still feel that the new price of $16.99 is a bargain for what you get inside the zipped file.

I've taught the novel four times to seven different groups of students, ranging from very low reading levels to honors students; my materials are highly differentiated, with a mixture of comprehension and recall questions/activities with higher-level thought-provoking activities and questions. 

So what does the digital download include? Listed below are all the files you will receive in your digital downloaded Hunger Games Unit:

1. Student Survival Pack: this file contains all the character, vocab, theme, setting, symbols, and discussion questions needed for the students in a single handout. (Answer key is in a separate document.) (PDF & Microsoft Word Doc)

2. Character Organizer & key (PDF & Microsoft Word Doc)

3. Introduction activity (author videos/responses) & key (PDF)

4. Setting, Theme, and Symbolism organizers with chapter summaries & key (PDF)

5. Class Reaping Activity (PDF)

6. Vocabulary organizer with definitions & crosswords & key (PDF & Microsoft Word Doc)

7. Facebook Character Sketch activity (PDF embedded in the survival guide)

8. Character Olympics activity (PDF)

9. Advertising project/activity (PDF)

10. List of project ideas & rubric (PDF)

11. EBay Symbolism or Vocab Activity (PDF)

12.  Food Symbolism activity & key (PDF)

13. Puzzles, Mazes, and Word search activities & key (PDF)

14. Meaning of Panem activity & key (PDF)

15. Discussion questions for chapters 1-27 & key (PDF & Microsoft Word Doc)

16.  Figurative Language Practice & key (PDF)

17. Quotes from the novel trivia game & activity/quiz (PDF)

18. Chapter 1 Test & key (PDF & Microsoft Word Doc)

19. Chapters 1-27 Check Quizzes & key (with Map of Panem activity) (PDF & Microsoft Word)

20. Part 1 Test & key (PDF & Microsoft Word Doc)

21. Part 2 Test & key (with student activity) (PDF & Microsoft Word Doc)

22. Alternative Part 2 Test & key (PDF & Microsoft Word Doc)

23. Final exam & key with Vocabulary Final Exam & key (PDF & Microsoft Word Doc)

Teacher's Files:
24. Teacher's Guide (includes all answers to items in Student Survival Pack, Meanings of Names for Characters, Rec. Order of Lessons, and Learning Standards) (PDF)

25. Hunger Games Themed Bookmarks (PDF)

26. Four Review PowerPoint Presentations for Part 1 and Final Exam (in 3 parts). (Microsoft PowerPoint-PPT)

Yes, you get ALL of these files in ONE download! If you were to purchase them separately, it would cost much more than $14.99 (or $16.99 soon). 

The Hunger Games Teaching Unit CD contains even more files (plus offers almost all of the files in Microsoft Word, Pages, and PDF). It includes the Introduction Powerpoint Presentation and Visual Aides to the Novel, as well. You can purchase that at the low price of $30. I do not intend to raise the price of the CD.

I guarantee you won't find another Hunger Games Unit as comprehensive as mine. Just check my feedback from teachers if you need further convincing. Not only is my unit the #1 best seller of thousands of lessons on the TeachersPayTeachers site, it is also the highest rated product!


More Casting News from Lionsgate - Effie Trinket & Tributes

Lionsgate® announced the casting of Effie Trinket and the district 4 tributes today. Earlier in the week they announced the district 3 tributes, as well. Here is the official press release for hiring Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket:


LOS ANGELES, CA, April 28, 2011- Lionsgate® and the filmmakers of THE HUNGER GAMES are pleased to announce that Elizabeth Banks (SEABISCUIT, 30 ROCK, W, SPIDERMAN, THE NEXT THREE DAYS, THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN) has been cast in the role of Effie Trinket in the much anticipated film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ worldwide smash hit novel. 

Banks joins a cast of talented young actors - Jennifer Lawrence as series heroine Katniss Everdeen with Willow Shields as little sister Primrose, and Josh Hutcherson, who was cast as Peeta Mellark, with Liam Hemsworth in the role of Gale Hawthorne.  Amandla Stenberg was cast in the role of Rue, Dayo Okeniyi as her District 11 partner Thresh, and Leven Rambin and Jack Quaid as District 1’s Glimmer and Marvel round out the cast of the fellow tributes drafted to join Katniss and Peeta in the arena.  Paula Malcomson will be playing Katniss and Primrose’s mother.

Banks is represented by UTA and Untitled.

About The Role
Effie Trinket is a perennially perky handler assigned by the Capitol to escort and advise tributes  Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Melark  as they prepare for the Hunger Games.  From the day Katniss volunteers to take little sister Prim’s place, Effie maintains a freakishly breezy disposition and an obsession with etiquette and punctuality that masks a growing attachment to these two young tributes. 

About The Film
The Hunger Games is a worldwide fan phenomenon, the novel having been on the New York Times best seller list for over 130 consecutive weeks. The film chronicles Katniss Everdeen’s defiant struggle to survive in a future dystopia where The Capitol requires its twelve subjugated districts to atone for their onetime insurrection through the annual “Hunger Games,” a fight-to-the-death event held in a fantastical man made arena.  Although persevering through extreme hardship is commonplace for the audacious heroine, she is forced to make choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love in order to win the games and return home to District 12.

THE HUNGER GAMES will be directed by Gary Ross, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik.  Collins’ best-selling novel, which has over 3 million copies in print in the United States alone, is the first in a trilogy of science fiction/action novels which have developed a global following.

Lionsgate will release “The Hunger Games” on March 23, 2012.

Official Hunger Games Movie Facebook Page - "Who are the Tributes?": http://on.fb.me/THETRIBUTES 
Hunger Games Twitter account - http://twitter.com/#!/thehungergames


Fifty FREE lesson Downloads from TheOC Blog

Thanks to Charity Preston at The Organized Classroom Blog, here's a link to 50 completely free ready-to-print lessons in a variety of content areas and age groups. She celebrated her 500th Facebook "Like" on her fan page and wanted to share some great lessons from teachers around the world.

Thanks, Charity! make sure you follow her blog & "like" her on Facebook!


Super Star Deanna Jump Promotes TeachersPayTeachers

Congrats to Deanna Jump, who is the #1 seller on TeachersPayTeachers.com! I'm so glad she has finally gotten some much-deserved publicity on her success selling lessons plans on the site. She continues to teach kindergarten full-time and create wonderful units to help new and experienced teachers.

I've embedded the video from her Atlanta Fox News story. You've gotta love that Southern accent! :) If you haven't checked out the site, you should. It has lots of free lessons, as well as priced, from experienced teachers who have tested the products in their classrooms. Best of all, when you purchase from TpT, you are directly helping a fellow teacher, rather than a big publishing company.

Way to go, Deanna!


Lionsgate announces Casting of Mrs. Everdeen

Photo courtesy of Kevin Abosch
Official Press Release from Lionsgate® via email:


LOS ANGELES, CA, April 22, 2011- Lionsgate® and the filmmakers of THE HUNGER GAMES are pleased to announce that actress Paula Malcomson has been cast in the role of Katniss and Primrose Everdeen’s mother in the much anticipated film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ worldwide smash hit novel.  

Paula Malcomson joins talented young actresses in the roles of her daughters - Jennifer Lawrence as series heroine Katniss Everdeen, and Willow Shields as little sister Primrose. Josh Hutcherson has been cast as Peeta Mellark, with Liam Hemsworth in the role of Gale Hawthorne.  Amandla Stenberg in the role of Rue, Dayo Okeniyi as her District 11 partner Thresh, and Leven Rambin and Jack Quaid as District 1’s Glimmer and Marvel round out the cast of the fellow tributes drafted to join Katniss and Peeta in the arena.

Said producer Nina Jacobson of the choice, ““Katniss and Prim’s mother has come back from the depths of despair.  Her husband has been killed, resources are scarce and she must live in fear that either one of her daughters could be forced to participate in the Hunger Games.  Needless to say, we needed an actress with some gravitas – someone who could really transport herself, and audiences, to a place as tough as District 12.  Paula has appeared in some really top notch TV shows that are both extremely gritty and extremely imaginative, and she was the perfect choice for this role.”

Malcomson is represented by UTA, and manager Seven Summits.  Her most recent credits include the HBO series DEADWOOD, and the SyFy series CAPRICA.  Last year she had a season long arc on the F/X series SONS OF ANARCHY.

About The Film
The Hunger Games is a worldwide fan phenomenon, the novel having been on the New York Times best seller list for over 130 consecutive weeks. The film chronicles Katniss Everdeen’s defiant struggle to survive in a future dystopia where The Capitol requires its twelve subjugated districts to atone for their onetime insurrection through the annual “Hunger Games,” a fight-to-the-death event held in a fantastical man made arena.  Although persevering through extreme hardship is commonplace for the audacious heroine, she is forced to make choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love in order to win the games and return home to District 12.

THE HUNGER GAMES will be directed by Gary Ross, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik.  Collins’ best-selling novel, which has over 3 million copies in print in the United States alone, is the first in a trilogy of science fiction/action novels which have developed a global following.

Lionsgate will release “The Hunger Games” on March 23, 2012.

Hunger Games Teaching Unit Giveaway!

 I'm giving away one of my digital Hunger Games teaching units to celebrate my 100th follower on Facebook!

You only have until tonight, 11 p.m. central time, to comment on my Facebook post. I will choose a random number from the posts & that person wins one of my digital Hunger Games teaching units. If you already own it, you can have your choice of Catching Fire, Mockingjay, or any other product from my store. (Sorry, shipped items are NOT included in this giveaway.)

Don't miss out. And you must be a follower on Facebook and comment on my post to qualify. Deadline is 11 p.m. central time TONIGHT.

Thanks so much to all my followers. I really appreciate it and hope I can continue to provide you with valuable posts. If you have any suggestions, let me know!


And may the odds be ever in your favor!

This giveaway is CLOSED, but I am sure I will have more soon. 

Spread the word & get your friends to "like"! :) And congrats to my three winners: Alisha, Megan, and Donald! I gave away two Catching Fire Units and one Hunger Games unit. Thanks, you three, for participating! :) 

On Earth Day: There Will Come Soft Rains

There Will Come Soft Rains: Celebrating Earth Day

On Earth Day, or any day, The Hunger Games trilogy offers excellent discussion points on the environment.

In chapter one of The Hunger Games, as Mayor Undersee is reading the history of Panem, discuss the natural and man-made disasters that contributed to the destruction of earth as we know it today. What have we done (and what are we currently doing) to contribute to this futuristic mess? Topics you can bring up are oil spills, carbon emissions, destruction of our rain forests, etc. Have students brainstorm a list of disasters just in the past three years.

You can segue into the wars that further contributed to the deaths of many and harm to our earth/nature. How many wars are currently being fought right now? What is the end result? Or is war never-ending?
This question is specifically addressed in Mockingjay. Peeta points out that we humans will continue to kill each other (and everything else) until there is no one left. He forces the citizens to consider how their actions--no matter how impulsive--will affect humanity.

Is this how we, too, are making decisions? Impetuous, reactionary. Too caught up in our own lives that we ignore what we are creating for our future generations?

Sara Teasdale, one of my favorite poets, wrote the poem "There Will Come Soft Rains," published in 1920. This poignant poem is particularly appropriate; and though Teasdale wrote this in response (most likely) to World War I, its song could very well be sung by the mockingjays in Katniss's world.

There Will Come Soft Rains
Earth Day: There Will Come Soft Rains
Albany storm clouds, June 2009 (photo T.Orman)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

— Teasdale, Sara. From Flame and Shadow. The Macmillan Company, 1935. Copyright, 1920 by The Macmillan Company. All rights reserved.

The speaker's indifference to the end of human life can be connected to characters in The Hunger Games trilogy. Ask your students, "Which characters are indifferent to taking the lives of others?"

While reading the first two books, most will probably respond with President Snow and the people of the Capitol. In Mockingjay, [Spoiler alert] new players enter into the killing field, as Katniss discerns that even the Rebels and President Coin are careless with protecting and maintaining life for future generations. And ironically, it's President Snow who is Katniss's source of realization.

For further study, read Ray Bradbury's 1950 short story of the same title. He writes of a post-apocalyptic society in which machines and nature have lived on after humankind has destroyed itself.

*This post is part of Classroom Connections*
Classroom Connections on Hunger Games Lessons


From Mockingjay - The Rebel Propos: We Remember

When I taught Mockingjay this past fall I assigned my students the task of creating their own rebel propos. They could choose any of the themes that were in the novel. I made a "We Remember" video as an example.

This was a great hands-on technology assignment for my students, who all have MacBook Pros. I gave them a couple of days in class to work on it, then finish it up at home. The length requirement was at least 30 seconds, but no longer than two minutes. I preferred 30 seconds to a minute, but since mine went over, well, what can I say?

I have the handouts for this lesson, more examples, and step-by-step instructions on my Mockingjay CD.

And thanks to my husband who is the voice of Finnick. Our 12-year old son was laughing so hard at our voices, you might be able to hear him in the background. I created it on my MacBook (no, we teachers do not have the MacBookPros...just the students!) using iMovie. The wonderful artwork is from the very talented group of artists over on www.deviantart.com.

The Reaping for Rue and Thresh, District 11 Tributes

Thresh & Rue have been cast! Courtesy of Hunger Games Movie Facebook
Earlier today I received an email alert from the Official Hunger Games Movie Facebook Fan Page letting me know Thresh and Rue have been selected! It was great to be one of the first to know. Make sure you "like" them to get the latest news.

So the actors chosen for the district 11 tributes are newcomers Dayo Okeniyi (Thresh) and Amandla Stenberg (Rue). I think they look pretty close to what I pictured. And I have confidence in the casting team that they will be able to act the parts, as well.

I'm surprised we have no word on Prim, Haymitch, or Effie yet. I assumed those roles would be announced next, but still pleased to have this exciting news today!

So what do you think? Is this how you pictured the district 11 tributes? Comment below...

A New Way to Wordle...

There's a new way to Wordle.
It's Called Wordling. And though it is similar, it has some differences, as well.

Much like Tagxedo, you can use different shapes for your word clouds. One of the fantastic things is your fonts from your computer are right there, so you can have your favorite text in the cloud.

Another unique feature is that is can use your Twitter or Facebook login and uses content from your posts as your Wordling. It's interesting to see what you are writing about most in your status updates!

I have found it to take a little longer (actually, much longer) than Wordle to create. It's also not as easy to save. I can make my Wordles into high quality PDFs, but I haven't figured out how on Wordling with my Mac. I can still take screen shots, but the quality is not as good as Wordle's. 

Either way, I think it's pretty cool! Here's my Mockingjay/Hunger Games Wordling, using the text from chapter 3 as the content:
Mrs. Orman's Hunger Games chapter three Wordling

Have your students create a word cloud with character traits from the novel you are reading. This is a great way to review the characters from the book. Plus, the art displayed around the room is both beautiful and educational. :) 


My Hunger Games Lessons YouTube Video

Character Traits of Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games:

This is a fun little project that you can do with your students. (Thanks to Charity Preston from The Organized Classroom Blog for the idea!) It is easy to create and fun to make. YouTube (which the students all love anyway, right!?) has a link called "Search On" , which is a Google "Search Stories" video creator program. Click on the "create your own" button, then you just type in the search terms in the boxes provided, select whether you want it to search the web, images, maps, etc.. Last is the music, which is supplied by YouTube. You just select which type of mood you want to create, basically. Then, presto! It's complete.

Use this while reading the novel (or any book) and have them create a video related to it. Ideas include:
   1. Use search terms based on one of the characters
   2. Summarize a chapter in short phrases
   3. Use it for vocabulary review by typing in the words for a particular chapter or unit
   4. Select a character or term and give characteristics or personality traits
   5. Create a fun summary of the main points for review
   6. Use it to introduce new concepts, characters, or vocabulary

The possibilities are endless. You get 6 items to search and the last one is just the word(s) for that dramatic ending effect.  Have fun with it--you know the students will! Comment below with a link to your "search on" project.

Characters from The Hunger Games:

A Shameless Plug for Hunger Games Lessons:


The Coolest Cake Ever...

Pikko from Adventures in Bentomaking created this beautiful Hunger Games cake.
Is this the coolest cake, or what!? It's almost too pretty to eat.

Pikko from Adventures in Bentomaking created this for a cake contest. She earned second place for the "People's Choice" award and tied for first in the "Most Book-Like" category.

I think she deserved first all around, but that's just my opinion. Too bad she doesn't live nearby as I would LOVE to ask Pikko to make a cake for my students and me!

Bravo, Pikko! And way to spread The Hunger Games love!


Updated Catching Fire Digital Download

To all of the teachers who purchased my Catching Fire digital download (and older CDs), I have updated the discussion questions file and added the tests and quizzes in Word formats. Make sure you download it (it is a free download).

Instructions to download the updated unit for free: 
1. Log on to the TeachersPayTeachers
2. Go to the "Manage My Account" page
3. Click on the "Download/See My Purchases" button
4. Click on the word "Expired"
5. You will have another 24 hours to download your materials for free

If you purchased the Catching Fire Unit on CD, I will be emailing you the updated files. If somehow I miss you, please email me and let me know!

Thank you!


What is Your Favorite Poem? Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day Thursday

Poetry - What is your favorite poem?
Thursday is National "Poem in Your Pocket Day." To spread the love for poetry, carry your favorite poem in your pocket and share it with others.

Teachers can find many resources on the Poets.org website, and I also have a free download with popular poems that can be printed and selected by students to use for this special day.

So what is your favorite poem? Which will you pick to carry with you on Thursday? Will you reward students who carry poems in their pockets?

One of my favorites is "Speech to the Young : Speech to the Progress-Toward" by Gwendolyn Brooks (see below). I love the way she uses language in a unique way (which is one of the reasons e.e. cummings is a favorite poet of mine). For example, the preposition "along" is not used as a preposition or as an adverb, but as a noun. "Along" is now a time - the present - to live for, to enjoy, to be happy (not down about things you cannot control). She also has a beautiful sense of alliteration: never over-doing it and combining just the right mixture of sounds to create a memorable punch where it's needed. Just listen to the "s" sounds, mixed with the "h" sounds. They flow smoothly until you get to the end of the first stanza, where the "h" sound comes to an abrupt halt with "hard home-run." It's perfect. That's reality, and sometimes reality bites. I love that you can hear it biting with the crack of a home run, which ain't great when you're the pitcher.

But just when you think, Wow. Pretty depressing, she comes back with the beauty of the "l"/"n" combo of sounds: "Live not...", repeating itself then following up with "Live in the along." Just the way the line ends (in terms of sound) radiates that sense of well-being. Things will be fine. It's not about winning, it's not about things that happened in the past, and it's not about the future or what lies ahead. It's about right now and what you do with your life this moment to make a difference, to progress.

Speech to the Young : Speech to the Progress Toward
by Gwendolyn Brooks

Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,
"even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night."
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along. 

"Speech to the Young" by Gwendolyn Brooks, from BLACKS
(Chicago, IL: Third World Press, 1991). Copyright © 1991 by Gwendolyn Brooks Blakely.

I have so many other favorites, but this is one I'm sure I'll carry with me Thursday.  Comment below with the poem(s) you'll be carrying.

In the past I have rewarded students with candy for carrying a poem. I'm not sure what I will do this year. Perhaps they will be a recipient of one of the pencils that I had personalized with poetry-related quotes or titles. Or perhaps I will give them a poetry-related bookmark. What do you think?


Think Scholastic Book Orders are Just for Little Kids?

How to build your classroom library with Scholastic Book Clubs

 Remember those great Scholastic book order forms you'd get in elementary school and you couldn't wait to get home and show your mom which books you wanted? Then you waited what seemed like weeks to get those crisp, shiny, brand new books from your teacher. Or remember when your gymnasium or library was transformed into a book store? There would be piles upon piles of books to peruse. I could have spent hours at the book fairs if it weren't for my siblings, who did not seem to share my passion for reading. Those were always my favorite days when I was a kid.

As my son made his way through elementary, I once again got to live vicariously through him, still just as excited when he brought a book order form home. I think his teachers caught on pretty quickly that I was a sucker for them because they began sending them home more and more frequently.

As he got into middle school the fliers became more mature, of course, and I realized that many of my high school students would like some of the books featured. But isn't Scholastic Book Clubs just for kids? I wondered.

Book Beat for Teens
Nope! I went online and found out that they have not only the TAB flyers featuring books for grades 7 and up, but TeenRC/BookBeat supplemental flyers with additional book choices just for teens. So I did a little survey of my classes and asked my students if any of them would be interested in ordering books from Scholastic. Most of them were as surprised as I was to find out they had books for teenagers. I signed up as a teacher and they quickly sent me flyers to pass out to my students. My first order had very few students participating. But when those books came in and I passed them out, many students were curious to see which books people ordered. Several asked if I would order more. Of course!

How to build your classroom library
One section of my classroom library.
Build Your Classroom Library on Bonus Points!
I am still addicted to ordering books and have been able to build a pretty good size classroom library from books I either purchased from Amazon.com or Scholastic, and many I earned free from Scholastic's Bonus Points Rewards for teachers. Every time a parent/student orders a book, you earn bonus points which can be used at any time for free books. Some months they will even multiply your bonus points. In my last book order my colleague and I were able to pick out over 30 books on bonus points alone! Now, I must admit that most of the books in my class library are those I ordered from Amazon, or were in my personal collection, or students/staff members donated to my class library. But probably at least 50 were earned on bonus points just in the last two years.

Last year I pre-ordered my classroom sets of Mockingjay ($13 per book, plus a free mockingjay pin) and supplemented my sets of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire with paperbacks for $7 each.

Which books are popular with teens?
Right now I have some students who cannot get enough of the soldier-related stories, pictured below. Other favorites have been the Uglies series, Vladimir Tod series, the Twilight series, the Harry Potter series, the Mortal Instruments series, and any by authors like Rick Riordan, James Patterson, Chris d'Lacey, Anthony Horowitz, Sarah Dessen, Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Picoult, and John Green. Of course, The Hunger Games trilogy has still been the favorites by my students.The nice thing about Scholastic book orders is how affordable they are for students. Most of mine pay for the books themselves, so getting free shipping at the lowest price is a huge deal for them.
Scholastic Book Clubs
Some of my male students cannot read enough war-related books.
This is definitely a favorite for many boys.

Want to sign up for Scholastic Book Club for Teachers?
Sign up here to start offering your students/parents book orders. They can order online (you may have to call them to get a code) or through the traditional fliers. Scholastic Book Club Enrollment for Teachers or Book Club Login Page

I have to give a shout out to Paul at TeachersPayTeachers, as well, for creating a site for teachers to earn extra income. In today's newsletter he mentioned ways in which teachers were spending their earnings from lesson sales. One of them was to buy books and supplies for their classrooms. I spend a large chunk of my earnings on books for my classroom since building a library isn't really part of our department budget. And I am not alone; almost all the sellers I know buy many things for their classes.  So many students around the world benefit directly from both Scholastic Book Clubs and TeachersPayTeachers. It's just another way teachers have found a way to give back to their students and to the community.

Build your classroom library

How to build your classroom library


I Love the Casting for the Hunger Games Movie!

Photo courtesy of Mockingjaymanual.org

I'm coming off of spring break this week, so this is the first chance I've had to write since the big announcement of Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth playing Peeta and Gale, respectively. All I can say is, "Oh Yeah!"

Seriously, I am excited for Josh. His personality is perfect for Peeta. Sure, he's got dark hair. Hair can be altered. Personality is not so easy. He will act like Peeta with ease because he IS Peeta. And I am so glad that they went with actors based on TALENT rather than looks. That is much, much more important. I do not know much about Liam, but if Suzanne Collins agreed with the choice, I'm all for him, too.

So to all those fans out there who are disappointed, think about this: The AUTHOR of the novel--the person who conceived the entire Hunger Games trilogy and knows it better than anyone else--supports these actors for the roles. Don't you think she would know better than anyone else who is right for those parts!?  I do. So bring on the other choices! Let's see Charlie Sheen for Haymitch! :)


This Week's Freebies & 10% Off All Week!

   TeachersPayTeachers is having a 10% off sale this week to celebrate record first quarter earnings! Now is a great time to sign up to sell (you can sign up here). The top seller is making over $14,000 per month! Each seller is noticing increased sales, so what do you have to lose? It's FREE to sign up and sell, so give it a try.
For the 10% off, use promo code A3F9D when checking out. (Now would be a great time to purchase those more expensive lessons you've been wanting, like my Hunger Games Trilogy 3-CD Teaching Unit set!)
   This week's 10-FREE lessons are HERE.

   And I want to take a moment here to announce that because I have added so many great lessons to my best-selling Hunger Games Teaching Unit without raising the price, it will go up to $14.99 later this month. In the past year, I've added numerous lessons and made a lot of improvements (I've had five big upgrades - offered free to those who purchased it previously). You will still be able to download it free for life at the $9.99 price. So if you want to purchase it before the price increases, now is the time!

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