Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hour of Code December 5-11: New games, new codes, new apps

New games, new codes and new apps! December 5-11  is fast approaching. Take a look here for all that is NEW!  



Teachers, sign up your students for an EVENT! 
Join millions of students worldwide in learning code.
Go beyond the event and teach all year. The site is full of content for coding.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down (book 11)


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down (Book 11)
by Jeff Kinney
Amulet
2016
217 pages
ISBN: 9781419723445


Readers young and old  know what makes Greg Heffley endearing and likable, but how do they convey their feelings  to adults who may have never heard of Wimpy Kid books? (Okay, I cannot imagine anyone who has not heard of  Wimpy Kid, but I guess some exist)  They may tell you that he is like every kid who ever came before him. He is funny, sarcastic, sloppy, lazy, intelligent but unchallenged, misunderstood and adorable. In a word, he is like them, the every child, and that is what makes Wimpy Kids books worldwide bestsellers and Jeff Kinney one of the most influential people on the planet!

Book 11 does not disappoint. It is a glimpse into the mind of Greg Heffley, and it is hilarious.  Greg swears he is on some secret reality show where he is the star of the show. In order to keep his audience entertained, he whispers funny asides to the hidden cameras. Later, thinking that aliens from space are so advanced they send houseflies in  as their drones to gather information on human life before deciding to invade. Why they seem to be attracted to dog poop, Greg cannot answer. 

Greg continues to entertain with stories about school and Rowley, his best friend. Greg goes so far as to join the school band, not that he wants to play an instrument or for the pleasure, but just so he can get invited to the hottest middle school party of the year. Talk about over achievement!  Of course on the night of the band recital, Greg somehow manages to get himself locked up in the band room with no way out. Not only that, he splits his pants so that even if he is rescued, there is no way he can appear on stage. 

Jeff Kenney's sense of humor comes through in copy and in hilarious illustrations. There is no stopping Wimpy Kid. Kenney is now on his second world tour visiting all the countries where kids love Greg Heffley. Double Down is currently #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. 

Highly, highly recommended for all ages! 

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not not receive monetary compensation for this review.




Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hour of Code: Begins December 5-11, 2016

Hour of Code


Hour of Code December 5-11, 2016—Join millions of students worldwide  Hour of Code 2016

Video “Computer Science Is Changing Everything”-watch

“Why I Code” –watch inspirational video


Learn How To Code for Hour of Code. Play the games and learn. Play Minecraft, Star Wars, and help Anna and Elsa on ice! Play all three code games. All ages

Code.org

Go to Code.org
Create an account and REMEMBER your login and password information !
You will need to sign in each time if you want to print certificates.

Click on Try Hour of Code

WATCH ALL VIDEOS and play the games all the way through.

You will learn about EVENTS; PRINT your certificate when you finish the game.

Intermediate Code:

Introduction to Javascript- learn Java from Khan Academy. 

Build your own game with Tynkor Use Code Monster, K-3, Dragon Dash, grade 3+, Tynker + Minecraft, grade 6+
The Easiest Way To Mod Minecraft—sign up and learn new skills. How to modify Minecraft

Bill Gates Explains If/IfElse Statements-video

Mark Zuckerburg Teaches REPEAT LOOPS-video

For Teachers:


Get tips and watch videos; sign up for FREE and help your students learn code! 

Compiled by Pamela Thompson http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/
feel free to use any information and links as long as you credit the site and link. If you are using my entire blogpost, please link back to this blog. Thank you! Pamela 

Hot Tech Tools for the Classroom and Beyond

Hot Tech Tools for Classroom and Beyond
                                      Some for testing, some for studying, some just for fun!
                                                               List by Pamela Thompson, LMS
                                                              http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/




http://www.flubaroo.com/    Use with Google docs; self-grading tests, send reports, and best of all, email students their grades. Save time grading. Flubaroo does it for you!

https://edshelf.com/  Get a free account; extensive collection of apps, web links, lessons that teachers can use and add content of their own. A great place for ideas!

https://infogr.am/  Create charts and infograms for free.

http://www.cdc.gov/bam/gameroom.html   games for kids from the CDC; interactive learning

https://www.geoguessr.com/  Students can play in single or challenge mode; guess their location using blank world map and photo. Great fun!

http://bighugelabs.com/  Free site to make your photos into amazing things! Movie posters, puzzles, mosaics, special filters.

http://www.fotobabble.com/  create talking photos and slideshows. Add a message to photos.

http://www.flashcardmachine.com/  create flashcards to study for your next exam; share them with students, friends or study groups.

http://www.funbrain.com/  games to hone math and reading skills; fun!

http://www.imagechef.com/  Choose a photo/image and add your own words; share to Twitter or Facebook.
                            





Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Fun Pick: Girls Like Me

Girls Like Me
by Lola StVil
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2016
320 pages
ISBN: 9780544706743


Girls Like Me is a novel written  in verse and a series of chat room posts. Shay Summers is a high school teen who has lost both her parents--her mother abandoned the family and her father died in a car accident-- and now Shay is living with her stepmother. Shay uses food as a crutch to help her deal with her pain and loneliness. Even though Shay has two good friends, she feels alone in the world. On a whim, full of teen angst, and  bored, she answers an interesting post in a chat room.

Shay is surprised and delighted when the guy (?)  responds and their  posts to each other are fun and clever. The boy keeps pushing for a photo of her, but  Shay is terrified to send him one. Then he will know she's not the beautiful, skinny girl she knows that he imagines her to be.  Shay's self-doubt, body image and boredom make her a believable and loveable character that readers will empathize with. All teen girls struggle with doubt and  questions like: Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Do people like me?

The social media aspect of the book drives the interchange between Shay and a mysterious boy she becomes enamored with. Readers are drawn into Shay's world and they see how funny and how beautiful she truly is. Godot (the boy) is clever and snarky. Together they are playful magic.

BFFs Boots and Dash are the type of friends every teen would want to have, but each has a huge problem/concern of his/her own. Boots is dying; she is handling it the best she can, but really, how can a teenager even think about not living to see 20 years? Dash is afraid to come out to his family; he knows that his father will not only be disappointed but he thinks his dad will never accept of forgive him.

The only drawback to this books is the cover! While it is true that readers  like to read books with characters like them; that being said, girl or boy readers with weight/body issues are  not likely to be excited about carrying around a book with a "curvy girl" on the cover and with the title Girls Like Me. One can only imagine the comments and bullying asides that would ensue.

Highly recommended for  high school readers and collections. A fun read that touches on important issues.

Not recommended for middle school: talking about sex in the chats. Sexual and mature content.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. 


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

LEGO Wall at Middle School

Our ribbon cutting ceremony for our LEGO wall happened today. Carpenters installed our LEGO wall. Students donated unused, unwanted LEGO toys for our Let Go My LEGO drive and today they BUILD!

Check out the photo gallery from The El Paso Times --more photos here

                                                                     Day 1 of build

Our wall is 64 LEGO base plates mounted on plywood. Liquid Nails is the only way I would go. Create a "X" in the middle of each plate and then use steady stream of Liquid Nails around perimeter of each base plate. Liquid Nails also dries fast.

Inspired by LEGO walls around the country, I wanted a LEGO wall for my students.All four local television news stations, including the largest Spanish station interviewed students and taped footage. We were also covered by The El Paso Times. Our LEGO wall is the first in this district's libraries and the first in the region.

                                                Carpentry installs our LEGO wall; Thank you!                  
                                                                     Students Build!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Middle Grades Pick: The Littlest Bigfoot

The Littlest Bigfoot
by Jennifer Weiner
Aladdin
2016
ISBN: 9781481470742


Big-hearted, full of promise and whimsy,  and seriously entertaining, The Littlest Bigfoot is a sure winner for middle grade readers.

Alice Mayfair just does not fit in--anywhere! She's big for her age, well, she's enormous. Her hair is a tangled mop that she has no control over.  Every school Alice goes to, something goes wrong and she is asked to leave or worse, she herself wants to leave to avoid further confrontation. Her parents just don't know where to turn until Miss Merriweather finds her a new school: The Experimental Center of Love and Learning. Alice dutifully packs and take the trip to Standish Town.

The school is located the woods in upstate New York and run by a quirky hippie-ish,  yoga posing, granola eating, meditation practicing couple who probably study Mother Earth News magazine, grow their own pesticide-free food and live off of  the grid. Alice doesn't seem to mind the strange camp/school and settles in to her cabin and begins  helping the cook in the camp's kitchen.

Just across the lake lies a secret community of Bigfoots who are afraid of humans and fear discovery.Millie is the littlest bigfoot--so little, in  fact, that she doesn't resemble any of her tribe. Millie is charming, intelligent and curious--too curious for her own good.

Two worlds collide when the girls meet by chance, but each girl  brings something to their unique friendship. A boy from town is convinced he will find a Bigfoot. When he joins forces with another Bigfoot hunter, the Internet notices. What will happen if he digs too deep?

Jennifer Weiner takes this tale of sweet friendship to the next level. The message that we are all different comes across with a warning that sometimes differences are the reasons actions happen. The ending allows readers to guess what happens to Millie and Alice. Alice is left with many more questions than answers but sets the stage for book two.

The Yare (Bigfoot) dialect is charming. Children are known as "littlies" and snacks are "snackles." The Bigfoot tribe even has a source of income. They have their own Etsy store selling all natural remedies they  get/make from the forest

Highly, highly recommended grade 4-up.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Middle Grades Book Giveaway: The Littlest Bigfoot

The Littlest Bigfoot
by Jennifer Weiner
Aladdin
2016
ISBN: 9781481470742

I have 5  FREE copies of The Littlest Bigfoot up for grabs! For your chance to win a copy, simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state, and email contact. The deadline for posts is Wednesday, October 19 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Check your email on October 19. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my  email. Books will ship from New York. Good luck and start posting!



Reviews

"A charming story about finding a safe place to let your freak flag fly." (People)

"Bestselling adult author Weiner (In Her Shoes) makes a winning children’s book debut with this witty story of outcasts coming together, first in a trilogy. . . .Well-drawn characters, high comedy, and an open-ended finale will leave readers eager for the next installment."

  (Publishers Weekly)

"Weiner writes an engaging tale that helps children to understand both bullying and the difficulties faced by people who in some way deviate from the norm. . . . Enchanting right up to the sequel-beckoning end."

  (Kirkus Reviews)

"A heartwarming tale about friendship and belonging that will resonate with those young readers who have ever struggled to fit in or find their place in the world."

  (School Library Journal)

"Bigfoot believers and non-believers alike will enjoy this story that focuses on the importance of friendship and acceptance amidst bullying, loneliness, and a lack of self-confidence."

  (School Library Connection)

"Plenty of youngsters—legendary creatures or not—will relate to this smartly crafted tale of appreciating your own quirks." (Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books)

Middle Grades Book Giveaway: The Littlest Bigfoot

The Littlest Bigfoot
by Jennifer Weiner
Aladdin
2016
ISBN: 9781481470742

I have 5  FREE copies of The Littlest Bigfoot up for grabs! For your chance to win a copy, simply post a comment to the blog. Please include your first name, city, state, and email contact. The deadline for posts is Wednesday, October 19 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Check your email on October 19. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my  email. Books will ship from New York. Good luck and start posting!



Reviews

"A charming story about finding a safe place to let your freak flag fly." (People)

"Bestselling adult author Weiner (In Her Shoes) makes a winning children’s book debut with this witty story of outcasts coming together, first in a trilogy. . . .Well-drawn characters, high comedy, and an open-ended finale will leave readers eager for the next installment."

  (Publishers Weekly)

"Weiner writes an engaging tale that helps children to understand both bullying and the difficulties faced by people who in some way deviate from the norm. . . . Enchanting right up to the sequel-beckoning end."

  (Kirkus Reviews)

"A heartwarming tale about friendship and belonging that will resonate with those young readers who have ever struggled to fit in or find their place in the world."

  (School Library Journal)

"Bigfoot believers and non-believers alike will enjoy this story that focuses on the importance of friendship and acceptance amidst bullying, loneliness, and a lack of self-confidence."

  (School Library Connection)

"Plenty of youngsters—legendary creatures or not—will relate to this smartly crafted tale of appreciating your own quirks." (Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Picture Book Pick: Are Pirates Polite?

Are Pirates Polite?
by Corinne Demas and Artemis Roehrig
Illustrations by David Catrow
Orchard Books
2016
40 pages
ISBN: 9780545628747

Available November 29, 2016

Vibrant illustrations and fun loving, raucous pirates paired with rhyming text makes this book a real keeper. Even though pirates plunder, fight, and are loud, they do share. Pirates use their manners according to this book.

Pirate manners include: knocking before entering a door, showing respect and being a good sport. There are twelve manners in all and they are listed for young readers on the last page.

So much fun! Any child who loves pirates and ships will love this gem of a story.

Highly recommended for all young sea-going lads and lasses. This is a great read to help instill manners and have that discussion about always eating with your mouth closed, saying "excuse me," sharing, and other polite behaviors.




Thursday, September 22, 2016

Stalking Jack the Ripper

Stalking Jack the Ripper
by Kerri Maniscalco
Jimmy Patterson Books
(Little, Brown and Company
2016
336 pages
ISBN: 9780316273497

Atmospheric, creepy, macabre and satisfying, Stalking Jack the Ripper is the first book (and it's a good one)  published by James Patterson's new children's  imprint Jimmy Patterson Books. Debut author Kerri Maniscalco gets the details right: the infamous London pea soup--the  fog, the eerily quiet streets, the hurried footsteps on cobblestones, the terror that stalks its victims in the dark ghettos of 1880's London, the seedy dens of inequity, the bloody cadavers, the gruesome murders, the creepy yet kind doctor uncle, the strong, young heroine with a mind of her own in a society  that says she can't be a doctor or study medicine and that says women should be wives and mothers, subservient to their men.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth is a London debutante from a family of financial means. Her father and uncle have an ongoing feud over the death of Audrey's mother, so Audrey Rose must sneak out to visit her uncle's gruesome yet fascinating laboratory in his home. She asks her uncle to attend his classes at the university to learn about forensic science but must masquerade as a boy since women were not allowed to learn medicine. She outshines most of the male students  at university but must keep quiet in class lest someone realize her true identity. One boy--a tall, good looking boy who works with her uncle--notices Audrey Rose for what she is. Thomas, Audrey Rose and her uncle, Johnathan Wadsworth,  study the murdered prostitutes to try to find clues to the killer.

Audrey Rose is strangely fascinated by the gore in her uncle's laboratory, but as a woman, she empathizes with the young women who are being murdered. She is the kind of heroine readers will love: strong, passionate and not afraid to buck authority. 

The deeper Audrey Rose digs, the closer she gets to the killer. Uncovering clues will cause events to be set in motion and Audrey Rose will be in danger.  Can she save herself? Will she be able to save her family's name and honor?

Shocking plot twists and some uncanny, unpredictable turns will leave readers breathless. Well done, Kerri Maniscalco! Well done, Jimmy Patterson Books!

Beautiful cover design  conveys the gloomy setting and atmosphere. The brilliant emerald color of the woman's gown is an eye catcher designed for sales.

A MUST have for collections! A MUST read for horror and mystery fans. Gothic horror fans will rejoice! 
Highly, highly recommended grade 9-up due to gore and mature situations.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Picture Book Pick: Penguins Love Colors

Penguins Love Colors
by Sarah Aspnall
The Blue Sky Press
2016
ISBN: 9780545876544

Available November 26, 2016

Bright, lively, bouncy, and fun, Penguins Love Colors is sure to be a hit with young readers who love animals and colors. Sweet illustrations will captivate and children will want to embrace a warm bunch of siblings and their loving mother.


Six penguin siblings love colors.  Living in a land that is covered with white snow,  the penguins decide to paint their world and make it a more vibrant place. Each penguin is named after a colorful flower: Dandelion, Broccoli, Tulip, Tiger Lily, Bluebell and Violet. Each penguin loves their color and paints with that color.

Their world becomes a brilliant landscape of flowers and colors which they are happy and proud to show Mama. She is overjoyed to see their work and young readers will be,  too! Aspinall's illustrations are BOLD and bursting with color. She is the most brilliant penguin of them all.

Although this book is targeted for young readers, the preschool and kindergarten ages, art classes of any age could read and critique this book for illustrations and learning primary colors. Penguins Love Colors embraces smart design layouts and vibrant colors that children will love and want to visit again and again. Questions in the text will engage readers to answer them.

Highly, highly recommended for young readers and all art classes. I shared this F & G with my art teacher who raved over the book. So, there you  have it, art teacher approved! Five stars from me!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Picture Book Pick: Sports Pick: Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still
by Karlin Gray
Illustrated by Christine Davenier
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2016
40 pages 
ISBN: 9780544319608

"The story of Nadia Comaneci gets a treatment as energetic as the gymnast herself. . . . Sprightly watercolor illustrations are both strong and springy, capturing Nadia’s literal and metaphorical ups and downs as she works hard, fails, and picks herself up."—Booklist



"Gray debuts with a picture book biography of phenomenal Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, the star of the 1976 Olympic Games. . . . The jaunty narrative takes readers from Comaneci’s childhood through her first Olympics with lively illustrations in ink, watercolor, and pencil."—Publishers Weekly



"Gray's narrative is as sprightly as a gymnast's back flips. . . . [A] respectful, 40th-anniversary tribute to Comaneci's soaring achievements."—Kirkus Reviews

 

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still balances an endearing story of a young gymnast and her country's hopes of a gold medal. As a young girl, Nadia was said to be fearless: roller skating right out the entrance door of a department store or riding her new bicycle before her dad had tightened all the screws. She was a ball of kinetic energy that could only be contained by a gymnastics coach and his wife. Nadia's parents enrolled her in the gymnastics school where Nadia could expend all her energy. Soon she was learning routines on all the equipment, afraid of nothing.  she ran, tumbled, cartwheeled, flipped, flew from bar to bar, jumped and soared.

 When her team entered the Olympics  in Montreal, the competition to beat was the Russian team who had two gold medalists. The crowd went crazy when little Nadia performed. She was the first gymnast EVER to score a perfect 10.0! In fact, the scoreboard could not even record her score correctly. It was designed to score only up to 9.9. She went on to score seven perfect scores of 10.0. Winning five medals, Nadia was the youngest person to win a gold medal in gymnastics history. 

 Beautiful water color illustrations capture the energy and bounce of young Nadia and her teammates. After the Olympics when asked by a reporter if she had plans to retire, spunky Nadia replied, "I'm fourteen years old." In the afterword, readers learn that Nadia never did retire. She continued in gymnastics and later become a coach.  Eventually she defected from Romania to the United States via passage through Hungary. 

 This book  is a winner of a sports story that both boys and girls will enjoy. Children will empathize with Nadia's energy and applaud her hard work and dedication to a sport she loves. Gymnastics was like breathing for Nadia; she could not live without it. 

 Highly, highly recommended for all collections.  A real gem of a picture book biography. 

 FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.  




Sci-Fi Pick: Diabolic

Read more: Publisher's Weekly interview with S.J. Kincaid 

The Diabolic
by S.J. Kincaid
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2016
416 pages
ISBN: 9781481472678

The Diabolic available November 1, 2016

S.J. Kincaid's exciting new adventure story takes place in space where senators rule a galactic Senate keeping all technology away from the common people, the Excess, and their planets. In this way, mere humans  will remain subservient.Science is forgotten and only machines can fix other machines. Humans lack the knowledge to repair any of their spaceships and many are breaking down and vanishing into deep space. The powerful senate would rather lose a few ships then give humans knowledge and power that could overthrow their rule.

 Diabolics were created from human DNA to be ruthless and to kill in order to save their charge. Diabolics lack feelings like empathy and love; they kill without emotion or remorse. Diabolics are not human and they undergo genetic modifications to imprint them on their masters.

Nemesis is selected out of a training pen by a powerful senator's wife to guard her young daughter. Nemesis and Sidonia grow up together almost as sisters, at least in Sidonia's mind. Nemesis cannot feel love, but she knows she would do anything to protect Sidonia. The Emperor declares death for all Diabolics, but Nemesis is hidden away by Sidonia's parents. When Sidonia is summoned to the galactic court by the powerful Emperor who is angry with Sidonia's father for studying science, the Matriarch decides to use Nemesis as a stand in for her own daughter, keeping Sidonia safe at home. Nemesis must now fit in among her superiors; she must pretend to be meek and mild Sidonia and not the trained and ruthless killing machine Nemesis. If she is discovered, she will be killed--and even worse, she will bring death to Sidonia and her family.


One slip of the tongue, one misused phrase, one gaff in manner can give her away. Nemesis isn't afraid of the powerful and treacherous court; she is terrified of hurting Sidonia. Nemesis crushes down her instincts to break necks and stomp on heads.

There is much to debate and discuss in The Diabolic: what place does religion have in science and vice versa? Should religion fear science? Should science be maintained only by a select few? Artificial intelligence--when is enough enough?  Just because we find a cure for something, when do we know whether it is right to use the cure if it causes other events? What part does power play in science? In religion?

The Diabolic is a solid YA sci-fi adventure that is sure to appeal to the masses. Though I am not usually a sci-fi reader, I was drawn to The Diabolic due to the character of Nemesis--the girl who is not a girl but so much, much more.

Highly recommended for high school readers and collections. Violence and mature situations make this a high school pick.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. 





Striking cover art is eye-catching and provocative. Smart marketing uses red tipped (evocative of blood) butterfly wings with steel blades ( violence and warfare) and a  a part of white wing (purity?)to sell the cover. Kincaid fans of Insignia will not be disappointed by this exciting new stand alone adventure..