Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sherlock Files: 100 year old secret

The Sherlock Files: The 100-Year-Old Secret

by Tracy Barrett

Grade level: 4


Great Stone Face Nominee 2010

First book in the series The Sherlock Files. The sequel is called The Beast of Blackslope.


Holmes and her younger brother Xander have moved from Florida to
London, England with their parents. One afternoon they are playing
their favorite game in front of their hotel, guessing people's jobs and
hobbies by getting clues from their clothes, when a
mysterious stranger presses a note into Xena’s hand, mutters “It fades
fast,” and hurries away.

Read p. 6, "What's that?" Xander tried to snatch the paper from her hand ...

through page 10, "The pub over there," the doorman said, leaning forward and pointing down the street."

Xena and Xander follow the note’s puzzling instructions and discover that they are not
only descendants of Sherlock Holmes but also the heirs of his notebooks
and his unsolved cases. Reading through the notebook of clues and cases, they discover one of the unsolved mysteries is still in the newspaper and people are still wondering what happened!
A missing portrait by
an artist named Nigel Batheson, whose other works are being displayed in a nearby
gallery, was never found.
Xena and Xander set out to find the painting and reunite it using their kid smarts and 21st century technology to discover the answer to the 100-Year-Old Secret.

This is a fast-paced,
entertaining mystery, with a lot of twists and turns and clues along the way - you can have fun trying to solve the mystery before the characters do!

  Sara Zoë Patterson, July 2009
  Some text from book covers, SLJ and Booklist book reviews

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Google Lessons on Search

Some really useful modules on teaching search from Google educators:

Monday, April 13, 2009

notes on Millenials as learners from LESCN 4/1/09

  • collaborate with their parents
  • world is open 24/7
  • pressured by work-integrated into home as modeled by parents
  • enveloped in a world where confidence is emphasized, they are guided and secure: greater safety net
  • hopeful goal + achievement oriented, civic minded
  • inclusive: 31% minority, used to being organized into teams, no one left behind norm. As educators, we need to push more independent work so they can be self-sufficient learners as well as team learners
  • read: Neil Howe Millennials Rising
  • Parallel process + multi-task. Takeaway: instead of 1 task for 20 min, launch 2 tasks at once for 40 minutes (LH "have-to" day)
  • Graphics BEFORE text. Graphic organizers integrated into lesson, always on the wall throughout, nonlinguistic representations
  • Marzano 9 strategies
  • authentic, real world context
  • mutimedia does not produce lazy learners
  • overview of learning in a graphic organizer that stays up throughout learning
  • ask for feedback/give feedback/formative assessments
  • let failure be ok, have to establish that as a culture in your classroom

Friday, November 07, 2008

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat
by Lynne Jonell
c. 2006


  • The sequel, Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls, is published (one copy for LH on order until we see if there is interest).
  • Genre: Mystery with fantasy and humor
  • Great Stone Face nominee 2008/9
  • for 4th and 5th grades


Emmy's world has turned upside down. Since her family
inherited a fortune, her parents are rarely home and seem to have pretty much forgotten her. Her teachers and fellow students ignore her, and she has
been left in the hands of her coldhearted and sinister nanny, Miss Barmy.

Read p. 1, "Emmy was a good girl. At least she tried very hard to be good.
page 5, "you're a big nothing, if you ask me."

As if things weren't bad enough, now Emmy has a rat insulting her! But Emmy discover that she isn't the only one who can understand the class rat when Joe, who is popular and plays soccer very well, surprises Emmy by talking to her when he catches her leaving a note for the Ratty the rat.

Read p. 14 "Emmy stared at Joe. Someone had spoken to her"
p. 15 "except Joe, who stared at her wildly"

So Emmy does decide to be a little bad, and she impulsively lets Ratty, who is not so very mean, out of his cage and they become friends. Emmy and Ratty are trying to figure out what Miss Barmy is doing sneaking into the school and are hiding in the bushes near the soccer field, when suddenly ...

read p. 98 "all at once, a whistle blew, a player shouted ...
p. 100 "curled up on the ground and shut her eyes"

Now Emmy has several mysteries on her hands - why can she and Joe understand rodents talking? Why is her nanny Miss Barmy so mean and exactly what is she really up to? Why do all of her classmates and teachers treat her like she doesn't exist? And, what is she going to do about Joe, who is now two inches tall?

Find out by reading this fun, action-packed mystery!


5th grade booktalk

Sara Zoe Patterson

some text taken from:
SLJ review
Book cover/flap

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shadow Thieves

Shadow Thieves
by Anne Ursu
c. 2006


  • This is the first book in a planned trilogy called The Cronus Chronicles. The second book is already out, called The Siren Song; Little Harbor owns one copy. The Promethian Flame, book 3, will be released summer 2009.
  • Genre: fantasy
  • Mielswetzki is pronounced Meals - wet - ski
  • Share with grade 5 - nothing inappropriate, just a challenging book requiring some background knowledge


In The Shadow Thieves, a fantasy book by Anne Ursu, the author imagines a world very much like our everyday world, except that ancient Greek myths are real.

Charlotte Mielswetzki is a pretty ordinary girl, but something extraordinary happens to her, and
it has everything to do with her creepy English
teacher, Mr. Metos and the peculiar, yellow- eyed men in tuxedoes that have begun
to follow her everywhere.

And then there's her new cat, Mew, who stopped her on the street and insisted Charlotte take her home and seems to have some strange abilities.

Charlotte's cousin Zee lived in England, where all of his friends became mysteriously and seriously ill. Sent to Charlotte's family in
America, Zee discovers that the same thing starts to happen to his new

Read p. 76 "Perhaps everything would have unfolded differently ...."
p. 77 ".. and just about every new release the movie rental place had."

p. 79 "Zee's days of bed rest meant he was not in school on Monday ..."
p. 80  "and make-up work to, well, make up."

p. 80 "by Wednesday afternoon parents had called parents, doctors had called doctors ..."
p. 81 "and on Tuesday half the students are out sick."

When Charlotte learned there was to be no school, she ran up to the den to tell Zee

p. 83 "Hey, Zee! Guess what?"
p.84 "They followed me."

Zee believes he is the cause of the mysterious sickness , and Zee and Charlotte set out to solve the mystery in order to help their friends. The cousins must get down to into Hades and across the River Styx to get to the bottom of this …they must save the world from The Shadow Thieves.


5th grade booktalk

Sara Zoe Patterson

some text taken from:
SLJ review
Book cover/flap

On the Wings of Heroes

On the Wings of Heroes

by Richard Peck

© 2007

Great Stone Face Nominee, 2008-2009

(Better for 5th grade - will end up on that "list" next year but booktalk it to both 4th and 5th for the GSF)

On the Wings of Heroes is by Richard Peck. This book is historical fiction. Historical
books are from the author’s imagination yet set
in an actual time and place in history. This story takes place in the year 1941, as World War II was just beginning for the United States.

When the United States enters World War II, life changes for everyone, including Davy Bowman. Davy's older brother Bill enlists and becomes a bombardier on
a B-17, flying dangerous missions over Germany. Davy's mom and dad worry about his brother, waiting anxiously for news about him.
Instead of playing hide-and-go-seek, Davy and his friend Scooter spend their time collecting metal, paper, and milkweed for the war effort, and meet the town's cast of quirky characters.

Davy and Scooter are combing the countryside for milkweed, which will be used to fill life vests, when they spot a very interesting barn, and inside the barn, a very cool old car. They start exploring the barn and the car, when suddenly ...

Read: p. 67 " an explosion about busted my eardrums. Hail rattled the roof from a clear blue sky."

Through p. 70 "He looked modest. Also, he had a buttermilk mustache. Miss Titus's was real."

Sugar, shoes, toothpaste, and car tires are all rationed, leaving Davy wearing shoes many sizes too small while he waits for his turn to get larger ones. But school goes on (with Miss Titus as a surprise substitute!), and Davy's adventures with his friends and his father keep him busy with funny and sometimes sad adventures and misadventures while he waits to hear news of his brother Bill, flying secret missions overseas. 

Sara Zoë Patterson

August 2008, revised 10/08

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

reading for kids

Warriors: The Lost Warrior Manga/Tokyopop edition, Erin Hunter
Ages 8-12, grades 4-6
So the first thing is that this is in graphic novel format, but there is nothing 'manga' about it. That completely aside, I'm not really interested in this story. It was amazingly popular with the 5th and 6th grade girls at my previous job (the regular format, that is). These cats take themselves way too seriously.

Clementine's Letter, Sara Pennypacker
Ages 7-12, grades 2-4 (main character and setting is 3rd grade)
Clementine is awesome, and I definitely see why kids and adults alike love her. Great books, appealing story, funny and realistic in an overall positive sense.

Leaping Beauty, Gregory Maguire
Ages 8-12, grades 3-6
This would make an excellent read-aloud for older grades (4 and 5), especially when studying fairy tales. I can imagine activities where the kids listen and draw characters based on what they are listening to. The vocabulary, sentence structure, and themes would make this a challenging book for all but the brightest and strongest readers. But a lot to interact with and read together and talk about - very stimulating and full of great vocabulary.

Dinosaur Trouble, Dick King-Smith
I'm not going to bother looking up the age range or anything because I just didn't like this book - dinosaurs work together to kill a t.rex that has been tormenting them.

Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag, Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
grades 1-2
Pretty fun story, good vocabulary, lots of straightforward dialogue. A solid beginning reader.

I Love My New Toy!, An Elephant & Piggie Book, Mo Willems
Ages 4-8, grades k-2
Another solidly awesome beginning reader from Mo Willems - funny, pretty simple, great story and great characters

Medusa Jones, Ross Collins
Ages 9-12, grades 3-5
Would make a perfect Ancient Greece tie-in - Medusa Jones is a medusa, and has a centaur and minotaur friend - their other classmates are the kids of greek gods, and are vain and a little lacking in brains. They pick on Medusa and her friends until they all go on a field trip up Mount Olympus and Medusa and friends save the day. The greek gods' kids don't really stop picking on our heros, and Medusa, in a funny, inadvertent way, turns them to stone. A fun story with a lot of opportunity for discussion and research outlets.