Winter reading

Home these last few days and weather is bitter outside. Decided to sit inside and read some books I have had on my bookshelves for a while now.

The first is by an Australian YA author, Tristan Bancks. I often read his blog posts and pass on many of his tips and advice to my students.
The FallThe Fall by Tristan Bancks

This is a nicely plotted crime thriller for middle-years readers, with shades of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Sam Garner, staying at his Dad’s 5th floor apartment whilst recovering from leg surgery, is hampered in his movements because he is on crutches. He has not left the flat since arriving almost a week before. In the middle of the night he is awoken by an argument in the apartment above. Hobbling to the window to hear better, he is further shaken when a body falls past the window onto the ground below. He goes to find his crime-reported dad only to find he is alone. Going back to the window he sees another man below bending over the body. Was it the killer and did he spot Sam? Although very frightened he goes to investigate a little further only to find the body has disappeared.
Sam begins to wonder if what he saw was real until someone breaks in to his Dad’s apartment.
The reader is drawn into the story and is pulled along with Sam as he tries to make sense of what he has seen and what he suspects might be happening. Sam is a realistic character. He has anger issues he has been dealing with and idolises his father, who until now has been absent from his life, and wants to follow in his fathers crime-reporting footstep. He’s no superhero on the surface, instead is scared most of the time but what he endures proves that he has strengths he didn’t know he had. All the characters, including his mum and dad, are believable and you can sympathise with all of them.
Tristan Bancks has created strong characters, recognisable settings and a suspenseful plot that should keep the readers totally engaged to the end.

The second is a biography written as a graphic novel about a long-time favourite Agatha Christie.
Agatha: The Real Life of Agatha ChristieAgatha: The Real Life of Agatha Christie by Anne Martinetti

This was fun read. A long-time fan, I read all her books when I was a teenager and occasionally go back to them for some light entertainment and relaxation. It is written as graphic novel which offers a very insightful glimpse into Agatha Christie’s life, ranging from her childhood to her death and covers her mysterious disappearance to Harrogate. It was also an interesting device – using imaginary conversations she had with her most famous characters, Poirot, Miss Marple and Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.
Last year I read The Mystery of the Blue Train, and visited her home Greenway in Devon as well. This slim biography is another nice acknowledgement of the amazing writer and woman known as Agatha Christie.

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Book Review: Kicking Goals with Goodesy and Magic

Teaching in a boys school, I am always on the lookout for books that will appeal to my students. Kicking Goals is one that meets many of the requirements I have to make me recommend a book to my students as a “should read”.

It is an entertaining and inspiring book. What is there not to love about it? Kicking Goals is about two well-known sportsmen who have set high standards, not only concerning their sport but also about how they live their lives. The author, Anita Heiss has the ability to write books with insight and humour that young readers enjoy and can relate to.  The fact that they are all indigenious and one dollar of every purchase of this book goes to the GO Foundation, which provides educational scholarships to indigenous children, adds to the worth of the book.

There are also Teaching Notes to accompany the book for teachers who may be interested in the book as a class novel. The story would best suit readers in upper primary or lower secondary schools.

Kicking Goals with Goodesy and MagicKicking Goals with Goodesy and Magic by Anita Heiss  My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is aimed at younger readers, and I think that the boys I know would particularly like it. The book is about Adam Goodes and Micheal O’ Loughlin, who were amongst the best footballers to ever play for the Sydney Swans AFL club. Anita Heiss interviewed both men separately and their responses to her questions are written alternatively on the pages of this short book. The character of the men comes though their responses as they voice their ideas about growing up, the importance of friendship, goal setting, sport, family, etc. This is a book that many young boys, and especially many young Indigenious readers,  boys or girls, would respond to as they set their own goals.

Although as an adult I notice and acknowledge many of the former issues, younger readers should simply find it fun to read as well as giving them an insight into the lives of some well-known sportsmen. It is fun to read with a lot of banter and humour as well as the more serious stuff.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Alan Turing By Jim Eldridge

I have always had a fascination with code breaking and cyphers. I have also been fascinated by the history of Bletchley Park and knew about the life of Alan Turing , well before the movie The Imitation Game. I recently took the opportunity to visit The Bletchley Park Museum, which is still being developed. I  spent a full day enjoying the opportunities that this museum offers and is well worth a visit.

It was with this interest I read the book,  from the Real Lives series, by Jim Eldridge entitled simply Alan Turing. This series looks to offer a great reading option for a number of the boys I work with. They are very accessible stories about interesting real-life figures and written by a range of authors.

My GoodReads review:

Alan Turing (Real Lives)Alan Turing by Jim Eldridge    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jim Eldridge has written a short but interesting biography about Alan Turing, who has become more widely known since the movie “The Imitation Game”. I have enjoyed many books written by Jim Eldridge as he writes about historical people and events in a narrative form that makes history accessible to a broad audience.

Alan Turing was a remarkable man and nowadays is considered to be one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century and is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. Jim Eldridge has written about Turing starting from his schooldays, through his time as a solitary undergraduate at Cambridge, his important and secret wartime work through to the moment of his untimely death from eating an apple laced with cyanide. (There is still debate about the circumstances of his death and quite a few theories about what actually happened.)

Alan Turing had a startling talent as a mathematician and was credited with shortening World War II by years, thanks to his work on the Enigma code. He was an awkward man who did not make friends easily and was gay in a time that made him a criminal and received punishment for it. Jim Eldridge includes it all in this book. He encourages the reader to consider all the factors to better understand the amazing life of Alan Turing, a true British hero.

This is part of a series (Real lives http://bloomsbury.com/uk/series/real-… ) of biographies written for younger readers and there is a broad range of people covered. All the books are short but offer enough information to satisfy young readers with accessible (but not simple) language. They are good books for boys who enjoy “real” stories and reluctant readers.

View all my reviews

Useful links

 Do YOUR Kids Think that Being Right is More Important than Being Curious? | CTQ #CTQCollab Some good discussion here. “Questions with no clear right answer should be fun to think about and wrestle with.” “Our educational system has failed if it has trained students to think that “there must be only one answer, and the teacher knows what it is, and they have to be the first to guess what it is.”
Detecting Bias, Browsing, Freshness, Backlinks, Red Flags… – ThingLink An interactive fluency model. It is a useful reminder for students about plagiarism, author bias and search strategies. The links to Information fluencey have changed but by going to ythe home page they can be found.

Soundtrap – Make music online Soundtrap allows you to make music online, from any device, with your own instruments or the virtual ones on the site. The free version offers 5 projects, many loops, instruments and sounds as well as other features. It works on Mac, Windows, iPad, Android tablets and phones, Linux and Chromebooks. It allows you to start, edit and collaborate on your recordings and, being cloud-based, wherever you are. You can collaborate with others and share your music on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud, as well as Spotify and iTunes. You can sign in with Office 365, Google, Facebook or an email account.

There are premium options with more features and fewer limits.
Did Shakespeare write his plays? – Natalya St. Clair and Aaron Williams – YouTube This is an intersting visual explanation tht offers and interesting way to introduce Shakespeare to students, making it more accessible.
10 of the Most Engaging Uses of Instructional Technology (with Dozens of Resources and Tools) — Emerging Education Technologies Kelly Walsh shares ’10 highly engaging uses of technology in the classroom, along with dozens of tools and resources for implementation’ in 10 of the Most Engaging Uses of Instructional Technology (with Dozens of Resources and Tools). This is a great place to explore for new ideas as the new school year begins.
The Difference Between Doing Projects Versus Learning Through Projects Terry Heick has created a visual comparison of traditional projects versus how current projects can assist in deeper learning. It is helpful for understanding the changes to pedagogy in our schools today.
Digital Content Guide ” The Digital Content Guide has been developed by a group of creative rights holders and creative content industry associations to help consumers find licensed content online across a range of services and platforms. The funding members are: Australian Screen Association; APRAAMCOS; ARIA; Copyright Agency Ltd; Foxtel; News Corp Australia and Village Roadshow.”
Teaching ideas – School libraries – guides at NSW Department of Education “Curriculum and policy support for school libraries – meeting the needs of future learners”
Activity Ideas & Resources – Teen Read Week Links to many ideas to celebrate books and reading
4 secrets to building rapport with students (even when it’s hard to connect) | The Cornerstone “Rapport is a relationship in which the student enjoys working productively with the teacher. It is the single most important facet of a successful educator, and its effectiveness depends upon the character of the teacher and how efficiently this is employed in all interactions with his or her students.”
5 skills students need to be contributing global citizens – Mr Kemp “Educators need to provide students with the behaviors, knowledge & skills to become responsible global citizens who can take action to solve a problem either individually or with others. So what are the important skills, behaviors, and attitudes that students need to become contributing global citizens? Here is a list of the 5 skills (there are many more, but these are the ones this teacher perceives to be most important) they believe students need to demonstrate:”
Teachers Digital Skills Chart ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning The chart features some 21st century digital skills that every teacher should be familiar with. For each of these skills they have come up with a collection of web tools that can help develop such skills “
A New Excellent Google Forms Feature to Auto Grade Quizzes ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning “Google Forms has recently introduced a new powerful feature that allows teachers to auto-grade multiple choice and checkbox questions.Additionally, ‘Teachers can also add review materials in the form of explanations, supplemental websites or review videos — so students can get quick, actionable feedback. Plus, teachers can get instant feedback on student progress, so they know which lessons need more explanation and what to teach next. We’ve also added a common request from educators to disallow students from sending themselves a copy of their responses.’ We are working on a detailed guide on how to incorporate this new feature in your Google Forms quizzes and we’ll share it with you as soon as it’s ready.”
Arduino or Raspberry Pi: Making The Right Choice For Your Project | YourSpot Good comparison piece explaining the strengths of both . “Arduino and Raspberry Pi are two different boards designed for different applications. The choice of using one completely depends on the type of project one is trying to make or the amount of knowledge one has of electronic components and software languages. “
Free Technology for Teachers: How to Create a KWL Chart in Padlet “A useful way to use Padlet is to have students collaboratively create multimedia KWL (Know, Want, Learn) charts. To provide students with guidance on where to place their notes, I use a custom background on Padlet. The background is a just a screenshot of a three column page that I make in Google Documents (any other document program will work just as well) that is uploaded to Padlet. “
ISTE 2016: 5 Tech Trends Reshaping Education | EdTech Magazine An overview of some current and emerging technological trends that are shaking things up in the K–12 space. These are put under the headings: Big Data, Augmented Reality, The Semantic Web, Extreme BYOD and Transmedia. Interestiing discussion.
6 Must Haves for Developing a Maker Mindset | EdSurge News “Best defined by the research and work of Carol Dweck, Jo Boaler and Eduardo Briceno, growth mindset is the recognition of the brain as a muscle that—with practice, effort, and nurturing—can continue to grow and develop. When you think of an inventor or innovator, past or present, what descriptors come to mind? Creative. Persistent. Curious. Fearless. Passionate. But educators know that most students don’t show up to your class on the first day of school exhibiting these qualities. So how do we provide not only the physical tools but the mental tools to Make? Here, in this post, are the essential pieces:”
9 Excellent Dropbox Features for Teachers ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning “Dropbox is a file hosting service that allows you to ‘keep your files safe, synced and easy to share.’ You can use it to upload files, videos, pictures and documents as well as generate unique URLs to share with others. Dropbox has introduced a new suite of productivity features that make creating, sharing and collaborating easier.  Tis post offers a quick round-up of the main features included in Dropbox:”
Minecraft in Education. 30 ideas for using minecraft in the classroom – teachwithict It is well documented how using games in a classroom context can facilitate collaborative learning, promote problem solving and stimulate an engaging learning environment. One methodology that demonstrates all these elements is Game Based Learning. One game that seems to optimise Games Based Learning is Minecraft. inecraft is a sandbox game where players have to build structures, fight monsters, hunt for food and gather resources in order to survive. Because of its sandbox environment, Minecraft is an perfect tool for engaging students and fostering creativity. Due to its open-ended nature, Minecraft also lends itself to a variety of subject areas and some are discussed here..
Why better STEM programs are the key to creating global citizens | eSchool News We live in a society today were facts are at our fingertips through ready access to the internet and search engines. To keep pace, our educational system needs to focus less on memorization of facts and more on how to use facts and how to ask the right questions.
How to Teach Digital Citizenship to All Students – Advancement Courses “In a world filled with blogs, tweets, texts, social media posts, and memes, it’s more important than ever that students understand the norms of appropriate and responsible technology use. No matter which subject or grade you teach, you can help your students live, grow, and work in a technology-driven global community.  Not sure how to begin teaching the many components of 21st century, technology-based learning? The nine elements of digital citizenship are a great place to start.”

99 texting acronyms and phrases every parent should know “By now, texting acronyms like LOL and OMG are pretty pervasive in pop culture; my daughter knew them in preschool, you hear them from the least hip anchors on TV morning shows, and heck, your own parents probably have texted you an LOL at some point. But when you’re the parent of a tween or teen, and you’re keeping careful track of who – and what – they’re texting, it’s good to be able dig a little deeper. Here, 99 texting acronyms and expressions that every parent should know. It’s not complete by any means, but it’s a start. Of course, lots of text speak will vary by region or even school or peer group. This is really just to help you understand that this kind of language exists in the first place. And yes, there will be completely new ones by the time you have these memorized”

Learning in the classroom Some good charts for measuring learning that could be used in most classrooms
Using Scratch in the Curriculum · TeacherCast Educational Broadcasting NetworkbyJeffrey Bradbury “In this episode, Jeff sits down with Kasia Chmielinski to learn how Scratch is being used in over 150 countries in more than 40 languages.  Join Jeff, Rob Pennington, Kevin Donatello, and Sam Patterson as we dive into the Hour of Code and Beyond on TeacherCast Podcast 124.”

Not All Student Engagement is Good Student Engagement Student engagement is a hot topic in schools these days. Students who are bored or disinterested tend to zone out in class, which zaps their enthusiasm for learning—or, so the thinking goes. On the other hand, students who feel inspired and energized in school perform better. Former school principal and education leader Eric Sheninger in a new book out called, “UnCommon Learning: Creating Schools That Work for Kids” says educators should be careful: Engagement doesn’t always translate to learning, especially when it comes to the integration of school technology. Sheninger says the key to a strong technology implementation is to establish clear measures and “observable evidence” that learning has actually occurred—and he outlines several questions school leaders should consider. Listed here are a few of his ideas

Education & Skills Today: How to transform schools into learning organisations? “The OECD-UNICEF Education Working Paper, “What makes a school a learning organisation?” should be seen as a first step towards building a shared understanding of the concept that is solidly founded in the literature and is recognisable to all parties involved, i.e. scholars, educators, policy makers, students and parents.

Based on an in-depth analysis of the literature and informed by a small network of experts, the paper identifies and operationalises an integrated model that consists  of seven over-arching ‘action-oriented’ dimensions which show how to transform schools into learning organisations”
Questions you need to ask when developing a digital strategy | Jisc  “Digital isn’t just a nice to have, it’s a necessity in the modern world. A digital strategy that unifies effective use of technology to enhance teaching, learning and assessment, and makes processes more effective and efficient, is a must for providers to deliver for learners and stay competitive.”
Blended Learning Slides and Resources #iste2016 @coolcatteacher” At ISTE Tom Arnett, Jon Bergmann, Mike Gwaltney, Aaron Sams, Stephanie Sandifer, and Jerry Obermyer all did an incredible job discussing blended and flipped learning. Shell Terrell shared the session on Periscope” links and slides

Useful links

Technology Addiction Research Executive Summary | Common Sense Media “The executive summary of our research brief Technology Addiction: Concern, Controversy, and Finding Balance highlights the six key findings from the report; presents findings from a poll of over 1,200 parents and teens examining how families feel about their mobile device use and how that use is affecting child-parent relationships; and offers advice for creating balance in this “always connected” world.”

Redesigning Thinking in Libraries with Hamish Curry (with images, tweets) · camillaelliott · Storify Storify “Redesigning Thinking in Libraries with Hamish Curry. At this workshop hosted by School Library Assoc of Victoria, Hamish Curry of NoTosh guided library staff through a design thinking approach to exploring the future possibilities for their individual school libraries.”

Makerspace Ideas & Resources For Maker Education “Makerspaces.com is made up of makers, geeks, educators, technology/stem leaders, library media specialists, librarians, school principals & superintendents, instructional technology specialists, edtech leaders, maker educators, makerspace operators, 3d printing enthusiasts, robotics club and so much more. Our mission is to bring makerspaces into the educational system, so we can bring the educational system into the 21st century. “
Take Charge To Maximize Your Library’s Online Presence | School Library Journal All libraary staff want to provide excellent library services for users, to be more integrated into the fabric of our communities, and to impact student engagement and achievement. This article looks at what you can do to improve your online presence to work towards accomplishing this. Recommendation: “Start small, learn from others, and make your online presence a priority. Your students, staff, and community deserve it!”
Architect Andre Chiote’s Minimalist Library Illustrations Focus on the Buildings’ Architectural Details – CityLab These posters offer artists impressions of the library buildings – with no books, but plenty of architectural details.
How Google Impacts The Way Students Think Interesting reflection on how we use Google and what thinking goes with that.
Moving at the Speed of Creativity | Comparing Risks and Benefits of a PreTeen YouTube Channel Wesley Fryer reflects on his daughter’s foray into the digital world. “While Shelly and I acknowledge the risks Rachel is facing by publishing a YouTube channel and using social media channels like Twitter and Instagram, at this point I do think the benefits of her learning, literacy development, and identity formation outweigh them. Decisions like these are definitely going to vary by family and by parent. I’m thankful we have open lines of communication to continue talking about what she’s doing and encountering. It’s certainly a dynamic situation that could change at any time”
What Does Learning Commons Mean for Your School? | PFAU LONG ARCHITECTURE  A reflection about one school library faculty’s goal of creating a positive learning environment with space that would help students and teachers develop real-world connections and the approach they took to creating it. The ideas for the space included housing the collection, helping students and teachers collaborate, being a hub for learning with a flexible floor plan and supporting newly developing areas in educational technology. The school decided to create a learning commons to move beyond traditional thinking about libraries and respond to what the kids and teachers really needed. The faculty envisioned their environment to be developmentally appropriate for their young students, as well as to foster a sense of creativity, inspiration, and encourage dialogue and a sense of community. The new learning commons library offered more space for stacks, added conference rooms and a lounge area, but the learning commons concept informed more than the library. These design changes increase opportunities to be inspired by student work and performances and create stronger interpersonal connections among students and faculty.
Free Newspaper Template Pack For Word. Perfect For School “Post has links to newspaper templates. it includes some good designs that students can choose from to create their own newspaper. They are all for Microsoft Word.
Student-Made E-Books: A Beautiful Way to Demonstrate Learning | Cult of Pedagogy
How to Use Padlet in the Classroom: A Fantastic Teaching Tool “Padlet is a versatile and easy-to-use tool. The post offers a great way to learn the basics.
So Many Fun Ways To Use Blabberize In The Classroom — Emerging Education Technologies “Blabberize is a free online tool that allows you to quickly create talking images. It provide opportunities to improve student engagement and collaboration. This post offers some ideas and examples of how it coould be used.
How Game-Based Learning Can Help Students of All Ages Learn | Edudemic
http://www.edudemic.com/game-based-learning-help-learn/

Game-based learning offers an approach where learning and play aren’t at odds with each other; in fact, games are the vehicle and environment for learning.
Printing Press A way for students to create a more professional version of their work. Works (short/stories/poems) can be published using the ReadWriteThink Printing Press. It is interactive and uses 3 simple templates. Students can save their draft then share it or publish it when they are happy
B’s Book Love : Technology-Based Poetry Activities for Poetry Centers and Poetry Stations A how-to about creating digital blackout poems. “These can help struggling readers focus on the MOST important words in the poem to find the main idea/theme of the poem in a fun and artful way:” There is an example of how to use You Doodle as well as a non-technology option.

Create Time-stamped Multimedia Notes on Your Android Device | Android 4 Schools This looks to be a promising app for ome of the students i work with who have difficulties with text but very good auditory and thinking skills. “Mic Note is a free Android app that allows you to create voice recordings, text notes, and image-based notes on one concise notebook page. The notes that you record with your voice can be time-stamped by clicking on your Mic Note note page while you’re recording. You can also take notes without recording any audio. ”

Top 100 education apps by subject and grade – Microsoft in Education A useful curated list of 100 microsoft education apps that you can get frokm the Windows Store. Downloadable PDF doc.
100+ Great Google Classroom Resources for Educators This is a very comprehensive post from Vicky Davis. It is a consolidation of the many things that Google can offer teachers and students. They are categorized under useful headings, many links to follow up and some useful videos are also embedded.
How to Use Padlet in the Classroom: A Fantastic Teaching ToolA very comprehensive explanation about how teachers could use Padlet with their classes making it a very versatile tool. Includes links and video
What Counts as Civic Participation? | Harvard Graduate School of Education A discussion that considers what we have included in our citizenship courses and what should/might be included now that the on-line world is so readily available to most.
Word Mover – ReadWriteThink Word Mover (By ReadWriteThink) is designed to help students develop poems and short stories Students can use word banks already created or they can also add new words to the list. They can then drag onto a canvas they have selected to construct their poem or story. They are also able to manipulate and move the text as they wish to creatively publish poetry. There are six different categories and 12 canvas backgrounds students may select. Useful lesson plans that use the app for a variety of learning levels and subjects are also shared.
Should I Download That App? A Ten Question Checklist for Choosing Tools Worth Your—and Your Students’—Time | EdSurge News Advice worth looking at. “Whether you are a classroom teacher, instructional coach, or administrator, ask yourself these ten questions before going any further”
Teaching literacy is more than teaching simple reading skills: it can’t be done in five easy steps | EduResearch Matters A good article about developing literacy skills. “All Australian children and young people becoming literate I believe it is vital we understand and define the complexity of literacy. Literacy encompasses the knowledge and skills students need to access, understand, analyse and evaluate information, make meaning, express thoughts and emotions, present ideas and opinions, interact with others and participate in activities at school and in their lives beyond school. “
Make a Book Map with Google Maps – Reading By Example “A nice class activity when the books, being read by the students, have specific locations for the settings. You can create a book map using My Maps from Google to highlight the settings in which these texts took place.”
Your Library@CSU: The Wonders of Trove “Trove was created and ismaintained by the National Library of Australia (NLA). It allows users to find and use resources relating to Australia, from more than 1000 collections; spanning libraries, museums, galleries, archives, govt agencies, research orgs, and other unique Australian content.  There is a useful how-to video embedded in the post”
Note Taking Skills for 21st Century Students @coolcatteacher “Note taking skills aren’t just automatic. We tell students “take notes” but they have no idea what that means. What makes “good notes.” What do they write down? How should notes look?” Lesson plans and teaching ideas for teachers
Worlds of Learning | Makerspace Vision Statement “What makers this process unique is that it offers a thematic approach to planning and creating a makerspace.  After deciding upon the themes you want to advance in your makerspace, and procuring the necessary equipment, materials and supplies to support each theme, attention can be given then to designing the physical aspects of your makerspace.  A good place to start this process is to think about your school’s mission statement and vision and then think through how your makerspace can be seen as a physical representation of that strategy.  “
What is a Makerspace? | Create, Collaborate, Innovate Author looks at the universal ideas/themes that lie behind different types of successful makerspaces.
21 Digital Tools To Build Vocabulary – Annotated list of tools. “Digital tools must coexist alongside more traditional tools. Online tools, compared to their more traditional counterparts, can provide a broader array of information about words and word meanings. Some tools also allow teachers to customize words so that students can practice, review, and play games with content or unit-specific words. “
EdTechTeam: Get coding in your classroom! Enter the Challenge.“Do your students code?” Some ideas to get you started – not all digitech heavy and many other resources are freely available.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Character Scrapbook: responding to Wonder

The year 7 classes have been studying Wonder by R. J. Palacio. The author has provided the reader by giving us details not only about the main character August (Auggie) Pullman), but several other characters. The narrative is therefore mostly told to us by Auggie but we also see events from the differing points of view of Via. his sister, Justin, her boyfriend, Miranda, Via’s long-time friend, and several kids who are the same age as Auggie.

The information about the characters has been written down by the author in descriptive sentences, through events that directly involve characters, and by how the characters behave, think and say about each other and especially the main character. There are many ways for our students to show what they have identified about a character from the novel.

One interesting way for them to begin is by creating a digital scrapbook for the character/s of their choice and the tool, Character Scrapbook, allows you to do this in a way that is a lot of fun.

Character Scrapbook is produced by Scholastic and is a web resource that is a simple to use. It offers a reader’s response activity that students can use to analyse any character in a book or story.

The template allows them to include details and reflections about a character through text, but it also provides the students with an opportunity to create a visual representation of that character.

Character Scrapbook (Scholastic)

On the left-hand “page” they can choose from a selection of options (including some animal options) to build up an “identikit” image of their character.

On the right-hand side they list the character traits. There are 6 different “pages” that the students need to fill out to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the character. These include:

  1. Ten things I know about XX
  2. Ten words that describe XX.
  3. Ten facts about XX’s personality
  4. Ten details about XX’s personality
  5. Ten challenges XX faced in the story.
  6. Ten accomplishments XX achieved.

Once created they can save or print it as a type of scrapbook.

This tool offers is a simple way to engage students and also offers an opportunity to help them form a deeper understanding of a book’s character(s).

Character Scrapbook could be utilized with fiction or non-fiction text as an individual, small group and/or even whole class assignment.

There is a detailed teacher’s guide on the Scholastic site that has a detailed how-to as well as lesson extensions.

Some of the suggested Character Discussion Questions, designed to help students deepen their understanding of their characters, included the following:

  • How would this book be different without this character?
  • How did this character affect the events in this book?
  • How did this character affect the other characters?
  • How was this character shaped by the setting of the book?

Latest addition to the Harry Potter story.

The Harry Potter books nd films are still fondly discussed by our students. Today we began a unit on film study looking at film techniques and many examples from the Potter films were given by the boys.

So it is with interest that I looked at the latest addition to the Potter stable.  The latest installment of the Harry Potter series has a trailer out. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

As always everyone has an opinion and they are quick to share. Below is a video that has a few fans discussing their reactions to the teaser trailer.

What do you think of the trailer?