We’re Moving!

November 29, 2007

You may have noticed that our class has not been blogging lately using this blog. Then again… maybe you haven’t. Either way, after discovering blogmeister (a free classroom blogging tool), I have decided to start shifting most of our classroom blogging experiences to our Language Arts blog, the Room 17 Publishing Company. This new blog (I feel like I have too many blogs… here a blog, there a blog, everywhere a blog blog) allows for more widget type applications and Flash.

Room 17 has lots to offer:

  1. Embedded podcasts from P.R.I.D.E. Radio (you can listen to our podcasts right from the page)
  2. Links to our iTunes website (get us on your iPod)
  3. Discussions between the kids and other classrooms from around the country… soon to be globe!
  4. Last, but not least, all of the kids have their own blogs here

I invite you to check out Room 17. Stop by and say hey!

Oh and just in case you didn’t notice the links above, you can click HERE to visit our new site.


Strangers and Saints

November 25, 2007

Alright guys, you will find my rough draft of Strangers and Saints below. A couple of things to consider:

1. What should I change? Does the plot make sense?

2. I purpously did something that I noticed a lot of you guys doing in our mystery stories. Do you recognize it?

3. What do you think of my conclusion? Denoument?

THWACK! The sound of a knife puncturing the tin can echoed throughout the ship’s mahogany walls. “Not another can of horrible food, “Tim thought to himself as he opened another stinky can of hash and handed it to his best friend William. “Hand it here Timmy that mush isn’t going to get any fresher than it is now, “William said, taking a handful of what Tim could only assume was potatoes.

Tim and William had been on the Mayflower now for roughly a month and a half. The two had started off the journey with high spirits; hoping to find religious freedom in the New World.  Although they were both there for the same main reason, Tim was looking forward to having his family join him after he was settled. William, on the other hand, was a different story. Back home in England, William’s family was killed due to their religious practices. The Mayflower was a chance for William to escape his rough past and start anew in the New World.

The journey on the Mayflower had started out well. Tim joined his group of Pilgrims aboard the ship on August 22, 1620. The first few weeks were enjoyable for Tim. He spent most of his days enjoying the scenery of the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. Quite often he would stroll around the ship’s top deck and marvel at the ship’s intricate mahogany banisters. Although the ship was dingy, Tim could appreciate the fine craftsmanship that had formed the ship’s railings. Aside from the top deck, Tim also found a particularly special place; the look out tower. Despite the fact that Pilgrims were not allowed in the tower, Tim took a special liking to it and even though Pilgrims were not allowed! In fact, he even carved his name in the tower’s wall! Unfortunately for him, that is where things started to turn sour!

On the third week of the voyage, Tim was summoned to the Captain’s chambers. The captain asked him if he had carved his initials into the look out tower’s wall. Tim admitted to the crime immediately. After considering the punishment for a brief moment, the Captain noticed that Tim’s size would be perfect for helping around the ship. Tim’s tall frame (at 6’2”) was put to good use. The captain assigned Tim to “rigging duty”.

This job was unique in that Tim was the only Pilgrim assigned to a job that the strangers (or sailors) would most often complete. Unfortunately this job made other Pilgrims look down on Tim. As a result, Tim started to recognize that there was a group of Pilgrims who thought they were better than him. He called these folks the “Pilgrim Elite.” One person in particular, Joe Smith, was exceptionally hard on Tim. You see, Smith walked around the ship like he was better than everyone else, particularly a Pilgrim tuned Pirate like Tim. Smith was a tall, skinny man, who wore an expensive, satin dress shirt, stainless, brown cotton pants, and walked around on his tip toes. 

Needless to say, after a few weeks of working around the ship, Tim’s positive outlook on things started to change. Working from sun up to sun down was taking its tool on Tim physically and mentally. First off, he looked like a wreck. What used to be fairly decent clothes had now turned into dingy white pants, a stained white dress shirt, and a small hat. Furthermore, Tim had started to grow irritable. Who could blame him though? Aside from working all hours of the day, people were starting to get sick around him. In fact, one person died! Fear started to spread on the ship. The Saint Elite began to blame everyone else for the sickness and the divide between the two groups grew.

“Alright… pass the hash here; I guess I have to eat at some point, even if it is this stuff, “Tim said to William. Tim began shoveling the hash into his mouth as if he hadn’t eaten in a week. In reality, without a hot meal due to the fear of fire spreading on the ship, Tim probably hadn’t had a real meal in a month! Tim and William quickly finished the can of hash and laid down for the night.

That night Tim started to feel ill. At first, Tim thought it was the hash; he had a bad stomach ache that soon started to turn into a large sweat. “Great,” Tim thought to himself, “I’ve caught something.”

The next morning, Tim woke up and was not feeling much better. “You don’t look good. What’s wrong?” William said looking at Tim, obviously concerned. Tim replied, “I don’t know, last night after we ate I started feeling horrible. I have an upset stomach, headache, and I can’t stop sweating.” At that very moment, Smith approached the two and said arrogantly, “My my… what do you know? The pirate has fallen ill. We need to do something about this. The last thing I want is for YOU to get ME sick. I need to make it to the New World. I have important matters to attend to. I will be speaking with the captain about this,” and he walked away.

Tim tried his best to proceed with the day, but he couldn’t get much work done felling the way he did. He managed to get though mid-day, but had to quite. He quietly stumbled off to his sleeping quarters, laid down, and fell right asleep.

Roughly two hours later Tim was awakened suddenly. “Get up, Captain’s orders!” a short, grungy man exclaimed. “What… what’s happening?” Tim asked. The man replied, “Captain needs to quarantine you. Says the Elite and Smith have been complaining about your kind getting sick. They don’t want you to spread whatever it is you’ve got.”

The man grabbed Tim and hulled him away to a small cellar on the bottom level of the ship. Tim was crammed in between barrels of rum and farm animals; a fine place to recover! Luckily, William caught wind of the event and rushed to Tim’s side.

“It’s that Smith, his father has funded a large portion of the trip. The captain has to do what he says, or else he won’t get paid,” William explained to Tim. William continued, “We can’t do much now though. However, I overheard one of the Strangers saying that he thought we may be close to land. Let’s try to wait this out.”

 The next day land was sighted. Everyone was so excited that they forgot about Tim and William. William helped Tim escape from his cell and they both ran off into the woods of the New World and were never heard from again.   

Calling All Nintendo DS Users!

November 9, 2007

  One student in our class owns a shirt that says, “No homework until my videogames are done!”. At first I thought it was a pretty funny shirt, but then it made me think, “What if videogames were homework?”Recently, I observed a youngster using the “Pict-o-chat” function on a Nintendo DS. In essence, the child can simply join a chat session with any DS users in the room and have a conversation! After taking a look at the Pict-o-chat screen, I noticed that (kids… cover your ears) the students were not only communicating, but writing!

I can’t tell you how often students don’t want to write, but to see them openly communicating via the DS was awesome! Granted, at the time, spelling was not an issue and the students were not working to problem solve, but I think there may be an educational value to the Pict-o-chat feature of the Nintendo DS. While I don’t have any current plans to use the DS, I am planning on investigating it as a possible tool to use in the classroom for group work and problem solving. Any thoughts?