Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jodi Picoult-What an awesome author!

For our final assignment in 3rd/4th period Mele Mele, students wrote letters to Jodi Picoult, the author of My Sister's Keeper. I found an email for Mrs. Picoult and asked if there was an address that we could send our class letters to. Within an hour of sending my email, I received a response from Jodi Picoult herself-from her Blackberry no less! She provided me an address, but explained that she would prefer email, so we decided to type our class letters and sent them by email at 11:00 a.m. today. Tonight I came home exhausted from three full days of conferences and decided to take a look at my school email. Imagine my shock when I saw that my inbox was full of messages from Jodi Picoult. She had responded to each and every one of my students. What an amazing author and role model for these kids. Here is a woman who is one of the most successful talents of our time, and yet she is humble and kind enough to recognize what a difference it could make to a child to receive word from someone of her stature. I can't wait to give my students the copy of their letter with her response, this has been such an awesome faith renewing experience reading her book and watching their engagement, and I am so grateful that I came across this author and this particular story!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Ula Ula, we have just finished reading a wonderful novel called Stargirl. Stargirl is a great book by Jerry Spinelli that looks at society and ponders, "What would the world be like if everyone looked and acted the same?" In the novel, we meet a phenomenally free-spirited girl who calls herself "Stargirl." Stargirl teaches us about the dangers of conformity and how sometimes we just need to be true to ourselves! From this novel we also learned the benefits of doing things for others, Random Acts of Kindness. I encouraged students to create service projects to spread that kindness throughout the halls of HMS and furthermore to our entire community. Please see the Ula Ula link to discover the projects this class chose to complete (it will be updated at some point this week, it's conference week so I don't get to see them often enough!)

My Sister's Keeper

A few months ago I was trying to find a book that would interest my wide variety of diverse students in our community of learners. I spoke to a 6th grade teacher from Grandview Middle School and she told me how several teachers there were reading an edited version of Jodi Picoult's famous novel, "My Sister's Keeper." Though an adult book, the characters are richly developed and the plot unfathomable, and upon reading it cover to cover, I knew instantly that this story would captivate my learners like no other book had. So I took out my sticky notes and covered the pages not critical to the meaning of the story and away we went on this 424 page beast. Immediately the response to the novel was unlike anything I'd seen this year. Kids begged to hear more and held insightful, wonderful academic discussion about the characters and plot. Now we are finished with this story that is said to have, "one of the most shocking endings of recent novels." My students were left wanting more and fortunately for them, they'll have it in a movie version due out this summer. Until then we are left with one additional assignment, a letter they are writing to the author herself, Jodi Picoult. I will post many of their letters on the Mele Mele and Oma Oma links so check them out and see how advanced our students can be when they find a topic that truly engages and captivates their attention.

That which I am thankful for...

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