Information for next week

For those of you here to find information for Prince of Wales Collegiate and our schedule for the first week of school, here it is:

    Teachers will begin school on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014.
    Students will begin school on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

      Level One will meet at 9:00am (dismissed at 10:00)
      Level Two will meet at 10:00am (dismissed at 11:00)
      Level Three will meet at 12:00pm (dismissed at 1:00)

    Wednesday, September 4th will be a regular instructional day for all students

    If you are returning to us as a level four, you will meet at 9:00am in the library on Monday, September 8th.

School pictures will be taken on September 11th and 12th.
Meet the Teacher night will take place on September 11th at 7:00 in the gym.

ROBOT – Review One Book on Thursday – Blind by Rachel DeWoskin

The book I’ve chosen this week is ‘Blind’ by Rachel DeWoskin. In this novel the main character Emma has been blinded by a freak firework accident. She has been blind for around a year and has decided to  be mainstreamed back into her old school with her old friends. Friends she grew up with and who knew her before the loss of her sight. However, one friend is not returning to school  – a member of their school community has been found dead, suspected suicide. Emma has to learn to deal with being blind as well as learn to deal with her grief and confusion over the death of her friend.

Losing a sense is a terrifying idea. Losing a sense in a freak accident while surrounded by your

family – those people who love and protect you – is even more terrifying. As a parent, the idea my son could lose something like his sight while standing with me scares me. Emma has to deal with the idea that the people who she always trusted to protect her were unable to keep her from such a negative life change. Emma has five sisters – one who is a baby – and one brother, and parents who love her and worry about her safety at all times, especially now. Her best friend Logan has her sight but does not have a supportive family who looks out for her; this is an issue with the girls and one that is never resolved. Logan is very supportive of Emma as she re-mainstreams, as is Leah. In fact, her whole family, other than her sister Sarah are supportive and do what they can to help her adjust to her new life. As Emma continues through her year, she learns more about what it means to be a friend, a sister and a daughter, as well as what it means to be a blind person in a sighted world.

The title of Blind is double edged. Emma is a good person but she is blind to the needs of others. She sees, so to speak, just what is related to her life and not what is happening in the lives in others. This is a realization she comes to  herself, as she gets past the physical changes in her life and begins to realize the emotional. As a character she develops and changes from someone stuck in her own physical changes into someone who can feel and emote about the emotional needs of others. this change is helped along with the examination of the suicide of her classmate. Emma is forced to look externally and see her role in the world bigger than the loss of her eyesight.

I really liked this book. it presented a realistic view of what a nice, smart, caring teenager would go through if presented with such a freak accident. Reading as she learns how to both physically and emotionally cope with her world is a a story that is told in a realistic and gripping way. Relationships are hard at any age and when you throw in a major physical change, they become even tougher. Having Emma become blind, allows for the metaphor of emotional blindness to shine through and makes her journey to being a better person a more satisfying one for the reader. For me, it is her relationship with Sarah that is the lynchpin -once she realizes more about Sarah, Emma is able to know more about herself. At times there was a lot going on however, that seemed appropriate to the lives of the characters.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reality novels and like to watch the development of a character in to someone who is emotionally mature. In addition, anyone who has experience with people who have vision issues will appreciate the struggles faced by Emma and her family.

I read this book on my Kobo, finishing it August 26th. It was published August 7th, 2014 by Viking Junior, ISBN 9780670785223.

Excellent quote on why I feel no shame reading a lot of YA lit

Some say it’s the elements of hope and wonder in children’s books that make them special. But there are many dark young adult novels these days. Adults loved Harry Potter, though it was written for the young. In the end, it is probably up to the reader of any age to decide if this book is for him or her.
Katherine Paterson

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/k/katherinep526507.html

Healthy Living and apps of mine

dropzone

Me, after rappelling the nine stories of Atlantic Place during an Easter Seals Fundraiser.

One of the last things I said to a fellow teacher was that this summer was going to be my summer. I was going to be well rested, get super healthy and get fit. I had plans, such plans.
So, rested didn’t happen – my family and I have been all over the province. I’ve rappelled down a building for goodness sake! Rested didn’t really happen. Oh well, I can sleep eventually, right?

 

Healthy and fit…. well, that started. I have to admit, there were some holidays taken where wings and pizza were on the menu – it’s a good thing the Bonavista Social Club isn’t closer to my house. However, with the use of some apps, I’ve gotten to push myself health and fitness wise and go farther than I would have imagined. You should note that I mention these apps for my samsung phone; fitbit is the same for my iPad and I am positive that Apple would have a comparable app for c25k and s health.

wpid-screenshot_2014-08-24-22-03-08.png

Fitbit tracker – whoops – gotta charge it soon!

A gift that I was given was a fitbit. if you’ve ever wondered how much and far you walk every day, a fitbit will help you out. I have the “one”, a fitbit that can track not just my steps but my stairs, my sleep and with the app, give me a space to track water and any weight goals I have. I find it fun to see how much I walk in a day – there are days that seem super active and yet I only walk 7000 steps. There are days I know are full and the fit bit at the end of the day shows that yes, I walked 14000 steps. One hike we took this summer was equal to 49 sets of stairs! The days that are lower but feel like they should be more I analyze- was there are lot of walking from sitting to sitting, was the day more active mentally and that’s why I’m tired? I not-so-secretly have the goal of doing a workout that alone reaches my goal of 10000 steps per day. However, that will come. Right now I think my record is 9000 steps during a workout. Not so shabby and I know it because of my fitbit.

wpid-screenshot_2014-08-24-22-07-29.png

S Health Tracker

Yet, if you don’t want to pay the money, chances are if you have a smart phone you have a step counter and fitness encourager. My phone is a samsung galaxy and came with S Health. It’s a great step counter – and gives you encouragement as you go – but you do need to be walking with your phone. It doesn’t do as much as fitbit, but has been great for those days when I forget my fitbit at home but want to keep track of my steps. I do like hearing it triumphantly trumpet when I meet my step goals.

 

wpid-screenshot_2014-08-24-22-05-11.png

My next workout!

But running. How running? I have always envied runners their ease of exercise – they look so graceful and strong running with serious faces. I have always been more of a yoga/swimmer/climber/jillian-michaels-victim. This summer I tried running. I decided that I needed a coach of some sort and most programs were not at good times – being a teacher, you don’t get to do stuff at the same times as others. In this case, I wanted to run at 8am as many mornings as possible. I was not pushing enough – I was letting myself walk more than I should. So I downloaded a Couch to 5K app. You can get any number of paid versions. I, however, choose the free version of the Zen Labs C25K. It’s fantastic – it pushes me to run longer but gives me walking time to recover. I can use a playlist of my own music in the background, while a pleasant voice tells me when to walk and run. AND, in case I don’t hear it, my phone will vibrate. I can choose whatever workout I want and when I finish it will tweet or update my facebook status for me if I wish (I have not opted to do this). You can get a paid version with no ads, but the ads don’t bug me, so I haven’t upgraded. For those hoping to put some fitness into their school week, this is a great app to help push you into running. I’m still not very good – I am quite slow – but my endurance is building up and I’m thrilled by that!

So, as the school year begins, I will have to find new ways to make these apps work with me. If you see me taking laps around my classroom, you’ll know why! I encourage anyone who wants to explore healthier options to check out what they can do with their phones/ipads/tech. I know that my eyes have been opened by my technologies and what they tell me!

 

 

The ways of reading

For many years I was a book traditionalist. I refused to try ereading and looked at those who did as people who obviously did not really enjoy the reading process. I. Was. Wrong.

As an asthmatic who is allergic to dust, the time came when I had to examine what I was doing. I had piles and piles and shelves and shelves of novels. I couldn’t add any books to my book room: the place was full. I had to make the decision- keep with traditional reading and dust or try ereading and perhaps save money on inhalers.

So I did it. I tried ereading. And now, I can’t stop. It’s frustrating to read books now in paper format. I still do, of course, for committee work and when I have no other options, but I do take pictures of books at the book store and then download them. I use them in the classroom all the time, putting them on whiteboard and showing notes I’ve made on them. I check out books from the library in electronic format and I spend a fortune on ebooks, something I’m trying to curb.

So, what makes an e-reader right for you? I use the Kobo app on my ipad and use overdrive when I borrow books, but others I know use different apps and different actual readers. To know what you want you need to know what you like. My son likes the feeling of turning pages and so he’s fighting the idea of using an e-reader. A friend of mine likes being able to read whatever she likes without people knowing what she’s reading, so she loves e-readers. To know what’s right for you you need to what you like about reading. Me, I like getting books as soon as I notice they’re out and I like being able to travel with my books, whether it’s to work or to another part of the country.

In the next few weeks I’ll be reviewing different ereading apps. Sometimes making a change requires a little info and a little self knowledge.

ROBOT – Review One Book On Thursday – ‘Say What You Will’ by Cammie McGovern

This is the first in what will hopefully be a long line of Thursday Book Reviews. My focus will be on Young Adult Literature, with perhaps some Adult literature that has appeal to young adults in general. Please note that all opinions are mine and based on my feelings when I read the book – your experience may vary.

Say What you Will Cover

Cover taken from Goodreads

The book I have chosen to review is ‘Say What you Will’ by Cammie McGovern. This book was marketed to readers of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, two authors I enjoy. This book is the Young Adult Debut of McGovern, an author who has previously published books geared to an older audience. This book is about love, loss and learning to communicate.

Amy was born with Cerebral Palsy. She cannot walk without a walker and relies on a voice box to verbally communicate with others. She has always been the smartest student in the class, however socially, she’s lagging behind her peers. Matthew has obsessive-compulsive disorder. His life has been ruled by fear, rituals and repeated thoughts that distract him from being able to live a full life. Amy and Matthew both live in the world but are unable to fully be a part of it.

In a bid to make friends, Amy convinces her parents to hire student aides to accompany her to classes and help her in school. This role is usually filled by adults in her life, further isolating her from her peers. She convinces Matthew to apply and in doing so begins a journey that neither of them could have ever anticipated.

This story is told partly in a series of messages between Amy and Matthew with narrative interjections in between messages to explain the characters thoughts and actions and partly in narrative form. We are told the story from both perspectives, learning more about what each feels about the developing relationship. We also learn more about their past, including how Amy has been treated in the school system and how Matthew began to develop his rituals. This all helps us understand how they develop their relationship and why they need each other more than they think. As their relationship takes an unexpected turn, we see how the love that they have that was so difficult to develop is so well deserved and hard won.

The characters in this novel – not just Amy and Matthew but all of the characters, including the other student helpers, other classmates and the parents – are nicely developed. Even if you do not agree with their decisions and even if they do not seem like great character development displays, you understand why they made the decisions they did. The juxtaposition of the two main characters – Amy who would love to speak but cannot and Matthew who can speak but doesn’t – is a beautiful one, as the character that you assume would be weak is the strongest of the two. There are many lessons in here for everyone, in terms of examining how you live your life and what is important to you.

At times the story seems unbelievable. There are plot twists that are questionable or feel as if they have simplified the situation (in making it complicated). This book is very situational and character driven and thus, with the plot issues you are reminded how people make bad decisions in their quest to be independent and mature; that no matter how mature these characters seemed, they are still teens learning their way through life.

Readers who enjoyed ‘Eleanor and Park’ or ‘Looking for Alaska’ might enjoy this novel.

I read this book on my Kobo App for iPad on June 8th, 2014. It was published by Harpur Teen on June 3rd, 2014. ISBN 9780062271129.