Thursday, October 6, 2011


Divergent by Veronica Roth

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves… or it might destroy her.

For all of you who loved The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent will be another book that you devour. Veronica Roth has created an exciting page turner in her first novel.


We started using Glogster Edu with the students at my middle school last year. We met great success with this online poster tool that allowed students to use creativity in creating an interactive electronic poster. To our disappointment, Glogster Edu is now only free for 50 student logins. This poses a problem for middle school because teachers have a minimum of 120 students. So my intern, Andrea Finley, went in search of a free alternative, and she came up with Nota. Nota is advertised as an interactive whiteboard that can be customized with video, photos, links and text. Nota does not have the snazzy interface that you see in Glogster, but it will create basically the same product. So which tool would I use? If money were not a factor, I would choose Glogster simply because it is so friendly for K-12 education. Since money is a factor, we are choosing Nota. Here is Andrea's creation for Divergent...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson


In this compelling sequel to Chains, the perspective shifts from Isabel to Curzon and we learn what it takes for runaway slaves to forge their own paths in the midst of the chaos of the American Revolution.

In the desperate circumstances of the Valley Forge winter, Curzon the boy becomes Curzon the young man. In addition to the hardships of soldiering, he lives with the fear of being discovered as an escaped slave passing for free. Isabel is also at Valley Forge—against her will. She and Curzon have to sort out the tangled threads of their friendship while figuring out what stands between the two of them and true freedom.

Chains and Forge would be a fabulous selection for

8th grade students studying American history. The story created by Anderson puts names and faces on the information that is learned about the American Revolution.


Tagxedo is a web 2.0 tool that allows you to create word clouds into many different shapes. Simply type your text into the box or upload text from a website or file, click create and watch your cloud take shape. The site automatically eliminates articles and punctuation marks, and it makes the most frequently used words larger. Tagxedo allows you to change the font, color and shape of your cloud. When you are satisfied with your product, save it as a jpeg and upload it to your website, print it, or save it for another day. Word clouds are also wonderful for students to create an autobiography cloud with words describing themselves. Use Tagxedo to create an introduction to a novel or other unit, and you can talk about main ideas that may come up by discussing the words that appear larger. The uses of Tagxedo are limitless, and it is very simple! Here is my creation for Forge...

My New Quest

I started a blog many years ago, but I could never decide on my contribution to the blogging world. I wanted something fun but beneficial that would combine my love of reading and technology. My inspiration came from the blog Stories From the Cloud where books and web 2.0 tools are combined to create an interactive experience with the stories that students are reading. My quest is to create a similar experience for middle school teachers (and students if they care to look around). As I finish reading a book, I will select a web 2.0 tool that will complement the genre and create a product for the book. Feel free to take my creations and use them in your classrooms, or use them to familiarize yourself with new literature for middle school students. So here I go...I hope you will follow my journey! Happy Reading!