Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Google Docs

One thing I have really wanted to finish for this year was getting the Grades 4's and 5's very familiar with their Google Apps for Education accounts.  The accounts, with their email, docs, sites, and some other tools, offer some really flexible tools for school use.

My hope is that I have will have the Grade 4 and Grade 5 students competent in using it, so that next year when they are in 5 and 6 we will be able to jump right into using them well.  Also, then I will just need to teach the Grade 4's each year how to use it, making it easier for me as well!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The 6th Grade Nickname Game

I have always loved Gordon Korman Books.  I remember when I was in elementary school I enjoyed such classics as I Want to Go Home! and This Can't Be Happening at MacDonald Hall. Gordon Korman always seems to do a good job of portraying characters that are in school, and in trouble.  The people in the stories always have interesting back stories.

This one isn't an exception, mostly.  It has some interesting people, but I found them slightly less fleshed out than some of his other stories I have read.  That could be because at 11-12 years old they just aren't as old as characters in some of his other stories.  Also, given the books shorter length, there just wasn't time to develop them as much.

Regardless, I still enjoyed it.  Lots of Kormans humour was present in the story, and it makes for a good read. He has a wonderful grasp of what is just absurd enough to be plausible and funny at the same time.  The story progresses well, and the teachers aren't just caricatures.  The mult-cultural fair that they present is vintage Korman.

I would certainly say this is a recommended read.  It was light, but pretty good.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Raven's Gate

Just finished reading Raven's Gate.  It is about a Matt, a boy whose parents died in a car crash when he was 8.  After that he left to live with his mother's half sister.  She squanders his parent's fortune, and in general neglects him. He finds a friend with a kid who is constantly in trouble and eventually finds himself arrested, at 14, for taking in a violent crime.  As a result he is sent to live in a farm in a small town far away from anything.  While there, his creepy land lady and her odd helper lay odd restrictions on him, and anyone he gets close too appears to vanish, sometimes in quite the bloody fashion.  

After that, things get weird.

This is the first in what appears to be five books.  I can't say I loved this one, but it wasn't a bad read.  The action was somewhat disjointed in the middle, but it got better after that.  And to be honest, a couple of the unexplained odd parts are explained near the end of the book.

I would probably go read the other books in the series, if I can get my hands on them easily.  It was worth finishing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Bar Code Tatoo

I just finished reading "The Bar Code Tattoo".  It is about a 17 year old girl named Kayla who lives in 2025, a not too distant future.  In this future people over the age of 17 can get a tattoo of a bar code on their wrist that holds all kinds of information, money, health information, family, and your address.  She is very mistrustful of the barcode because she thinks it will be used in some bad ways, including tracking people, or keeping some information about them that they don't want to keep.

I really liked the first part of the book.  It is about Kayla's thoughts on the tattoo, and its effects on her family and friends.  She even joins a group at her school that is anti-code, called DeCode.  The second half of the book though, it gets a little strange, especially the last several chapters, going in a completely unexpected direction.

Normally I would be ok with this, as it would make for an exciting end to the book.  Instead I just found it to be a little bizarre, and such a strange turn of events that it made the book feel somewhat disjointed.  It made me less satisfied with the ending of the book.  It also set itself up for a sequel, but based on how the first book ended, I am not completely sure I want to read the next one, which is odd for me, as I always want to finish the story.