Tom on The Walking Dead

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This still running series of comics has gone from a city to a prison, from refugees to a small community, and from one leader to democratic vote. Think of it as a timeline with certain events taking up parts in the history. This is The Walking Dead’s story and why it can change so drastically: one part in the time line will change the rest of the story forever along with the characters. When it first started, they were normal people. Now, they’re survivors.

Read the rest of Tom’s review here

Review: Sarah on Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park

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Every fairytale ending is the guy marrying the girl. In Romeo and Juliet, they die for each other and in every Disney movie, the prince and the princess live happily ever after. But to end the gut wrenching novel Eleanor and Park, Eleanor is stuck in a situation forcing her to make the most important decision of her life. Will she run away from her abusive father in Omaha to live with her uncle in Minnesota or risk the consequences to be with the love of her life?

Read more of Sarah’s review here

Review: Roby on Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

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It was the best of books. It wasn’t the worst of books. It had many pairs of opposing ideas and images. The book wasn’t one sided and simple. The book was satisfying because the way that the book ended and the way the book led up to that ending was neither a cliché fairy tale where everything works out for the main character, nor, a tragedy where nothing goes right for the main character. The book wasn’t disappointing. The book had great figurative language that helped express ideas and images. The book didn’t state everything boringly and literally.

Read the rest of Roby’s review here

Review: Luke on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

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A book that inspired T.S. Elliot, a famous poet, to say: “It seems to me to be the first step that American fiction has taken since Henry James”. Chances are it is in theaters near you. Created in 1925 and still popular today, some may think F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has it all. But if I had a chance to rip out page 113 to the second to last sentence without paying library fees, the book would be better for it.

Read more of Luke’s review here

Review: Wyatt on Dan Simmon’s Hyperion

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This book, written in 1989, is not your typical Odyssey-style story, where characters have to go from point A to point B and we hear all of what happens in-between. What this book does instead is tell both the story of the characters’ journey to the Time Tombs but also the stories of how the characters became who they are and what brought them to Hyperion … This book is not so much about the conclusion of these pilgrims’ journey but instead the journey itself. As with most things in life, the experience of getting to the destination can be worth more than the destination itself.

Read the rest of Wyatt’s review here

poets en plein air

The 6s writing nature poems in tree branches and among daffodils:

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Can’t help but think of another plein air poet’s famous ode:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

- “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth

Making of a Poem: “Myriad Absolutes”

Today, the 6s created prose-poems out of absolutes.

First, we each started by thinking up some interesting noun phrases:

the pretty bookshelf
the great outdoors
the stuffy room
the delicious slushie
her round cube
an enormous hippo
the incredibly stupid inspector
the pudgy little cuttlefish
the giant parrot
the clever fox
the fluffy llama
the amazing spiderman

Then, we tried to “zoom in” on each noun phrase to find another:

the pretty bookshelf -> books
the great outdoors -> howler monkeys
the stuffy room -> gorgeously painted door
the delicious slushie -> ice
her round cube -> smooth corners
an enormous hippo -> large teeth
the incredibly stupid inspector -> his incredibly stupid mustache
the pudgy little cuttlefish -> slimy tentacles
the giant parrot -> wings
the clever fox -> white-tipped ears
the fluffy llama -> almond-like eyes
the amazing spiderman -> sticky webs

Then, we each expanded the “zoomed in” noun-phrase by attaching an -ing or -ed verb or verb phrase:

books sitting on the shelf
howler monkeys screeching
gorgeously painted door being gawked at
ice melting
smooth corners rolling on their faces
large teeth crushing the flowers
his incredibly stupid mustache getting caught on a hook
slimy tentacles squishing around
wings flailing
white-tipped ears listening to the silence
almond-like eyes staring at the other llamas
sticky webs failing to stick

We then attached a verb phrase to complete our initial sentences and attached our absolute phrases with commas, creating the following sentences – each of which stands along as an incredibly scene-setting statement:

The pretty bookshelf, books sitting on the shelf, ate cheese.
- Alex

The great outdoors, howler monkeys screeching, grew cold.
- Maxie

The stuffy room, gorgeously painted door being gawked at, got stuffier.
- Ben

The delicious slushie, ice melting, disintegrated.
- Chas

Her round cube, smooth corners rolling on their faces, imploded outward.
- Evan

An enormous hippo, large teeth crushing the flowers, snoozes in the afternoon sun.
- Ted

The incredibly stupid inspector, his incredibly stupid mustache getting caught on a hook, blindly flails around.
- Emma B

The pudgy little cuttlefish, slimy tentacles squishing around, takes a nap.
- Ellie

The giant parrot, wings flailing, stumbles down the stairs.
- Emma D.

The clever fox, white-tipped ears listening to the silence, slinks away.
- Kate

The fluffy llama, almond-like eyes staring at the other llamas, gets a fur-cut.
- Izzy

The amazing spiderman, sticky webs failing to stick, got fast food.
- Tristan

Making of a Poem: “Bob Runs” by the 6s

We began by thinking of the simplest sentence we could. What does a sentence need? A subject and a verb. What’s the smallest number of words a sentence needs, then? Two. And so:

Bob runs

Then we each thought of an ing-verb:

sprinting
slitting
squishing
sliding
singing
falling
sleeping
growing
galloping
smashing
slobbering
eating

And expanded them into a phrase:

sprinting to the edge of the world

slitting the envelope

squishing the mushrooms

sliding down the waterslide

singing with a choir

falling off Mount Everest

sleeping through the day

growing flowers that graze the field

galloping down the hill

smashing ants

slobbering over the half-eaten hamburger

eating a half-eaten apple


Then we attached it all to our wee little sentence using commas, and a poem was born:

“Bob Runs”
by the 6s

sprinting to the edge of the world,
slitting the envelope,
squishing the mushrooms,
sliding down the waterslide,
singing with a choir,
falling off Mount Everest,
sleeping through the day,
growing glowers that graze the field,
galloping down the hill,
smashing ants,
slobbering over the half-eaten hamburger,
eating a half-eaten apple,
Bob runs.

Strange New Words

Middle Schoolers were assigned to track down some of the strangest, more bizarre words they could find – and share them with other classes. Here is the resulting “weird wordhoard”:

Jelp – A window that contains an air-conditioning unit
Quotify – To make up a random quote to support an argument
Boxscape – the volume of a box
Shalious – the feeling caused by a task that one does obligation rather than enjoyment
Hawkloon – a fuzzy plant commonly found in the southern hemisphere
Tustro – a Turkish curtain or drape. “The tustro blocked out the hot August sun, making the room black.” – R.F. Shrimshere, Istanbul Diaries
Rowlow – many different things put together. (Also the origin for Rolos, the candy, which were originally intended to be filled with many different centers – peppermint, coconut, mint – before become uniformly caramel.) “When I went to the banquet, the food was a rowlow of colors.” – Shirley Hackenberg
Saladboar – Brazilian term for a vegetable-and-fruit eating wild boar. Also slang for vegetarian dish.
Tuzzup – An Anglo-Caribbean hairstyle in which in the hair is pulled over the scalp and tied into a knot to protect the forehead from the sun.
Broppel – An ear infection contracted through a cartilage piercing.
iBlink – “Smart contact lenses” rumored to be in development.
Fogial – A dinosaur fossil that is more than 100 million years old.
Tubble – to shake the fat of one’s belly
Tribop – The drum-and-cymbal noise after a joke. “At the comedy club, we heard a tribop, but nobody laughed.” – laughreviews.blogspot.com
Hexteria – The fear of hexagons
Tuze – Medical term for conjoined triplets
Peplexa – Any three-dimensional puzzle, such as a Rubik’s Cube.
Spusious – Habitually laughing at the wrong time
Upwort – A rising feeling
Zestpond – A baby born at an altitude of 200 or more feet.
Locobot – Slang term for anything crazy
Zooclout – The thundercloud that Zeus and Athena use for transportation. “And then grey-eyed Athena and Zeus, who wield the aegis, / Were carried across the Aeolian sea on their zooclout” The Odyssey, Book 25
Swooflia – A state of being overly excited
Swoy – A group or crowd of young children
Sundag – The body’s reaction to supernatural heat
Steeplump – The job of killing horses for meat. “In the village, families would have to ask the steeplump for meat.”
Mune – The opposite of immune
Pojodox – The Caribbean equivalent of Chicken Pox, this disease causes yellow-green reashes on the ankles, wrists, neck, knees, and elbows.
Replitz – When your eyeball enlarges at a rapid pace.
Keenbug – The act of drawing on your skin with permanent marker.
Chucknology – Informal slang for studying a thrown object.
Chillse – Funeral procession for your father’s doctor
Droont – A think soup made with Koala meat in New Zealand.

Here’s a video of the 7s learning some of new vocabulary from the 8s:

And the 6s contemplating, among other things, the iBlinc and the Tuzzup:

(Oh, and in case you didn’t notice how quotified this locobot list of rowlow words is – April Fools!)

Studying Syllables with the 6s

To kick off April and our interscholastic celebration of National Poetry Month – along with our own poetry study and work-shopping – the 6s helped their reading buddies on their spring-themed haiku and the concept of syllabification.

The 1s were a bit reluctant to share their poetry and drawings – many folded them up or placed them face down on the floor when asked to read them in a circle. To bolster their confidence and support their understanding, the 6s helped them to count syllables, find words, and arrange lines. By the end of class, many of the same students who were abashed at the beginning were downright antsy to share their work.

Pictures below of our poet-mentors in action:

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