Tag Archives: Books

All the Books…


ImageI have spent the day walking up and down the stairs of my 3 story townhouse, moving books and other things around.  My goal for this year is to get everything where it should be, then to get rid of what is not necessary. I haven’t finished my mission statement yet, but I figured it couldn’t be “to get rid of all of the crap I have hoarded over the years.” But it actually is sort of going to be that… More later.

Right now, I am just corralling all of the things I have in separate areas. After I have done that, I am going to really get to work. The first thing I have done is to organize most of my books. I love books. I have kept books from childhood. I have bought books for projects, for my students to read, and for study. When I am in Mexico, I buy books. I have an Amazon Prime account, so you know I have a problem.

I have gotten a little bit better. I check books out at the library, and listen to books on CD in the car. But, sometimes, even though I am listening to that book, I have to buy it. Either I have to know what is going to happen next, and don’t want to drive around Atlanta one more time… Or I decide that the book is a keeper and I have to own it.

I have a couple of places where my books reside. One is a large armoire that has been in my family for years. It is a pain in the TAIL to move, especially to put together. This is a piece of furniture meant to be disassembled and reassembled for transport, so I don’t know why it is so difficult.

But it is beautiful, and it holds a lot of books. Mostly cookbooks and diet books. I am going to rid myself of many of those. I added one milk crate because there are a couple of gaps. There are knick knacks. I put some file boxes at the bottom. It looks good. Now I have room in other places for more stuff.

One other thing: the doors are not hung properly, and they don’t close. I solved that, finally.have 3 iron finials in the shape of fleur de lis. They are keeping it closed for Imagenow.

The other place I have books is in the closet of my upstairs guestroom. This is where I keep most of my children’s books. I have YA novels I bought to interest my older middle school students in reading. I have my collection of folk tales and all the story books I could find about La Llorona. I have books from my studies in Oaxaca, as well as picture books in Spanish and Mexican indigenous languages.

ImageTwo collections have not realised their potential as of yet. I have both the Magic Tree House and the Time Warp Trio Series, because I had an idea about using them to help my students do research. You would be surprised at how many of my ELL students favor these books. I usually encourage them to read something more age appropriate, but then I thought I might work with it. I was able to stop myself from buying all of the You Wouldn’t Want… Series from England, but only because I had not used the other books yet. The project has not happened yet.

I also have a dream about students researching famous Spanish-speaking people and creating a Day of the Dead shrine about them. I have a large collection of children’s books about people like Frida Kahlo, Antonio Gaudi, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, etc. that I have been keeping for that purpose. It hasn’t happened yet.

Both of those are things I plImagean to remedy this year. Wait and see.

Finally, I have a stair chest in my bathroom with a small collection of childhood favorites, such as my Marguerite Henry classics and my Trixie Belden series. I also have other books in there… And, yes, I have wondered if a bathroom is really a good place to keep books.

So, there you have it. I have come out of the closet about being a book nut. Interestingly enough, the books are back behind closed doors. Oh, I have another small collection of craft books and magazines in my studio downstairs, but they are not ready for prime time yet.


House of the Scorpion Loteria Card 2

Property of the Alacran Estate

Property of the Alacran Estate

I just ambushed a fellow teacher – she said that she is teaching House of the Scorpion.  Okay, I didn’t jump her – I just eagerly offered my help.  I don’t know if I will be teaching HOTS this year.  Although it is written on a 6th grade level, I have usually used it for older students.  This is my first time teaching 6th grade ESOL, so I don’t want to push it.

I had already offered my services to one teacher, but she just said that most of her students had already read the book by 6th grade.  She must teach “enhanced” Lang. Arts classes.  So, I hope that there is someone that will benefit from my experience.

This card is from the deck I started designing last year.  When he is born, Matt Alacran is tattooed on his foot.  I actually imagine it as one of those round address label stamps, but I really liked this tribal scorpion tattoo that I found online, so I thought I’d use it.  I hope it was on his left foot…  I like this card – the feet, the “Property of” t-shirt design in the background and the scorpion tattoo look cool.

In the story, the tattoo is usually out of sight, but it give him away at the beginning when he cuts his feet and hands.  Then, someone at the orphanage sees it and rats him out.

Common Topics in Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio


In a previous post, I wrote about chapter books.  In particular, I wrote about the Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne and the Time Warp Trio Series by Jon Scieska.

Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio common themes:

Knights and Castles:  The MTH series has kind of a connection with Camelot and Medieval England, because they communicate with Merlin the Magician, and – I think – Morgan La Fey.  Therefore, we have The Knight at Dawn and Christmas in Camelot to work with – I think that The Knight at Dawn is probably more relevant.  There is also a MTH Research Guide called Knights and Castles available.  The two activity sheets – here and here – are pretty basic.

As far as knights and castles are concerned, The Time Warp Trio has a book called The Knights of the Kitchen Table, but there are no lesson plans to go with it because the lesson plans are only for the TV series episodes.  There is, however, a book and episode about Medieval Scotland called Plaid to the Bone in graphic novel form.  So, if you feel like doing some activities about Medieval Scotland, check the lesson plan out.

Ancient Egypt:  MTH has a book called Mummies in the Morning, where Jack and Annie visit ancient Egypt.  There is a Research Guide called Mummies and Pyramids to go with the book.  An activity page to go with the book can be found here, and one to go with the Research Guide is here. If you scroll down, there are some possible activities described for each book, as well as a link to the worksheets.

The TWT counterpart is called Tut Tut – cute, huh? – where the guys go to (guess) ancient Egypt.  There is also an episode called Tut Tut in the TV series, which means that there are lesson plans to go with it.  The lesson plans on the Time Warp Trio website are much more involved that the Magic Tree House activities and lesson plans, but both offer other resources that are useful.

Arrrrgh! Pirates: In Pirates Past Noon, Jack and Annie run afoul of the mythical Cap’n Bones.  The Research Guide, called simply Pirates, goes into more detail and chronicles some of the more infamous pirates.  It has some great illustrations and a timeline with the history of piracy.  I don’t seem to have a link to the activities for Pirates Past Noon, but here is a link to the activities for the Research Guide.

In The Not-So-Jolly-Roger, the Time Warp Trio (Joe, Sam, and Fred) accidentally travel back to the early 18th century and meet Blackbeard.  It’s a little more exciting than MTH, but then, it’s supposed to be.  These books are written on a higher reading level, as well.  The series episode is also called The Not-So-Jolly-Roger and is available on the Passport to Adventure DVD – if you would like to show it.  The lesson plans are here.

Ninja and Samurai – 17th Century Japan: MTH’s Night of the Ninjas, Jack and Annie travel back to Ancient Japan, and find themselves in the cave of a ninja master This could be any time between the 14th and the 17th centuries, according to our ninja sources.  In Dragon of the Red Dawn, they travel to 17th century Japan, to the city of Edo.  There, they meet Basho – a (haiku) poet – there’s more information on page 107 of the book.  There is no Research Guide to go with this era, but is are activities for Ninja here, and Dragon here.

In TWT’s Sam Samurai, the boys also travel to 17th century Japan.  Keeping with the “haiku” theme, Joe, Sam, and Fred are writing haikus for English class.  When they take a break, they get transported and meet some surly samurai warriors.  Since an episode of the series was also based on Sam Samurai, there are nifty lesson plans that may fill in the gap left by no MTH Research Guide.

Neanderthals and the Ice Age:  In MTH’s Sunset of the Sabertooth, Jack and Annie are transported to the Ice Age – in their bathing suits!!!  This book comes with a Research Guide called Sabertooths and the Ice Age.  The book also covers Neanderthals and other animals of the Ice Age.  Here is a link to activities to go with the book and here is one that goes with the Research Guide.

The Time Warp Trio also has a book where they visit the Ice Age.  It is called Your Mother was a Neanderthal.  For some reason, they changed the name for the TV series episode.  It’s called The Caveman Catastrophe.  Here are the lesson plans that accompany the episode.

What I’m reading now


I know it’s been a while since I have posted – I am trying to get used to a new school schedule, and to teaching a new thing.   Typical.  When I get home, I’m usually beat.  I haven’t done any art lately, either.

One thing I am doing right now is reading.  I have to be diligent about going to the library on Saturdays when I can, because the Gwinnett County Libraries are now closed on Sunday and Monday.  I have been going to two different branches lately:  the one nearer to me is okay, but the one nearer my gym is larger and has a better selection of books on CD.

I just got finished reading Duma Key by Stephen King.  I checked it out a week ago on CD and was so into it that I finally stopped by a Barnes and Noble and bought a copy of the book so that I could read it in bed at night.  I haven’t read a SK novel in a long time, and I thought was great.  I thought that the narrator on the CD was perfect.  It’s just that I HAD to find out what was going to happen.  I finished it last night at around 1:00 AM.

I was just looking at a message board on Stephen King.com and there was a discussion about who should be cast if there were a movie.  I think that James Remar would be perfect as Edgar – he’s about that age and has that upper middle class business man look about him.  He’s that guy that plays the dad on Dexter, but I forgot that he also was in Sex and the City.  I had not strong opinions about the other characters, but I think that the suggestion that Jeff Bridges play Wireman was a good one.

You’ll have to read the novel to see what I’m talking about!

I also checked out a Young Adult novel by Laura Resau called What the Moon Saw.  It’s about a half Mexican-American girl who goes down to boonies outside of Oaxaca to meet her grandparents.  It’s really good – and I will now finish it since I have completed Duma Key.

On CD, I am listening to The Chicken Dance by Jacques Couvillon.  It is set in Southwestern Louisiana and I had checked it out in the past but didn’t get a chance to read it.

Time for supper.

Is grad school really for me?


Just recently, I sent an e-mail to a friend of mine about grad school.  I chose her for a couple of reasons – she has endured the grad school process, and I respect her opinion.  For some reason, I was considering it. For the most part, my attitude was that, if I was just looking for more money, I could make that happen with my art.

The last time I darkened a college classroom was maybe 12 or 13 years ago, when I returned to Louisiana to enroll in the Francophone Studies program at the University of Louisiana: Lafayette (back then it was USL – University of Southwestern Louisiana).  After one semester, I decided that this track was not for me, and was able to take Spanish, and some education courses.  That is how I got re-certified and returned to teaching.

I had looked into Arts Integration in the past, and the only place the offers a program is Towson University.  They offer what they call a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Arts Integration.  But it doesn’t look like AI has earned a place in degree-dom.  I do think that art is a very valuable tool in teaching – especially in teaching reading.  I was just looking for something “official” to take to back up that interest.

Last night, I did some research on degrees in Children’s Literature.  I took notes on Penn State, which has an online Master of Education and Curriculum – Children’s Literature.   That might be a possibility, but I have to be ready to spend what looks like $1900 per class.  Ouch!

Hollins University looked really attractive.  Here is the intro to their webpage on the Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature:

“Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature. One of the few in the country to offer humanities graduate degrees in children’s literature, we are, we believe, the only one to offer them in the study and writing of children’s literature.”

So, I could choose to study and/or write children’s literature.  But couldn’t I write on my own?  Summers in Roanoke might be fun.  Also, they seem to have an occasional trip to England for a summer class.  That would be fun!

I also really liked Simmons College’s program, as they offer an M.A or an M.F.A in Children’s Literature.  Here is a quote from their degree introduction:

The Center for the Study of Children’s Literature (CSCL) at Simmons College administers the nation’s first Master of Arts in Children’s Literature as well as a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Writing for Children. The CSCL provides a rigorous, disciplined study of children’s books for those who are — or who intend to be — involved in teaching, library services, publishing, writing, or related fields. To develop a critical vocabulary essential for appraising text and illustration, students apply a high level of scholarly analysis to children’s literature ranging from folklore and mythology to contemporary realistic fiction and nonfiction.

The only problem is that it looks like an all-year program, and it’s not online. I don’t think we can move to Boston at this time…

There were others, but they were mainly Education Degrees, or English Literature Degrees with a concentration in Children’s Literature.  Often, that meant only 3 classes – not a lot of depth, it seems.

So, the search goes on.  I still don’t know if grad school is for me, however.

I am a white person…


If there was any doubt, I now know that I am white person.  I am listening to a book on CD based on the book gleaned from the blog Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander.  I am up to #74 – Oscar Parties.  So now I know that I am in no way unique – as many of the stereotypes describe my life and I wasn’t even aware of it!  I …

Okay, that’s enough for now.  Now, I have to surf the internet for more opportunities to travel abroad at the expense of some non-profit organization.  Ha Ha!