Day One of Track-Out Reading

Hello readers,

Today is October 4, 2010 and it is my first day of our year round school ‘s track-out.  I will have the next three weeks off to relax and hopefully get some books read. 

I have a mission I will soon write about for this track-out, but first we must point you all to Scott Westerfeld’s blog as tomorrow his fantastic new novel, Behemoth comes out.  He also has a cool interview with Alan Cummings, the narrator for both the audiobook versions of Leviathan and Behemoth up on his blog.  They begin with a funny exchange about how you say the word Behemoth. 

As some of you know Scott Westerfeld will be in our area on October 22 and visiting both our great local independent book seller, Quail Ridge Books and our school.  We are lucky to have him and all the lads from SMS Guys Read are super excited about his visit.

Speaking of the lads from the club.  At our last meeting we talked about creating another SMS Guys Read T-Shirt and started batting around some ideas.  One guy named Sean started designing a shirt with a picture from Behemoth on the front.  I stepped in and said we might not be able to do this as the artwork is copyrighted and we do not have permission from the artist to use his work.  It was a cool idea and I didn’t want to let it die so I asked Sean to send the artist, Keith Thompson an email and explain what we were up to and if we might be able to use his work on our shirt.  He emailed us back and said sure go for it and wished us well!!!  So know we are developing a new SMS Guys Read shirt with original steampunk art from a great series.

So now on to my track out reading mission.  Again as many of you know I am a middle grades teacher and am now teaching a single social studies class.  I started my career teaching just social studies and then spent a few years teaching both language arts and social studies and last year even had the honor to teach science.  Now that I am back to just social studies after dipping my toe into the LA world and after getting bit by the kid-lit bug, I want to bring fiction into the heavily nonfiction reading of the social studies world. 

My curriculum focuses on Europe and South America so my idea is to bring fiction readings in from our areas of study or from authors from our areas of study into a literature circle assignment.  That means we could do literature circles with Eoin Colfer’s Half Moon Investigators or Keeper by Mal Peet and let the kids discuss the text as well as the cultural differences and even the larger world problems many of the stories bring up.

In the end the small reading groups, I am thinking about three in each group, would do some research based on their novel and then create a display board presentation for their books.  The crazy part of all of this is I want each group to have a different book, so as to not repeat display boards and of course I want to have read the books.  I need about 40 books total to hit my mark of no repeats and that means I have to get some books read.  I have titles that fit into our areas of study, but I have not read the books yet.  So my mission…get these books read so we can start this project after the new year.

Today I started I Am A Taxi by Deborah Ellis, which is about a boy who is living in a Bolivian jail with his mother and little sister after the family is convicted of possessing coca paste.  This paste is the base material for cocaine and the main character, Diego has now spent four years of his life in prison for that coca paste that did not even belong to his family.  I have about five and a half other books to get through so I will be a busy reader for then next few days.

So tomorrow more about I Am A Taxi and pics of Behemoth.

Read on,

Mr. H

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