Learning about the counties within Minnesota

As a native of Minnesota, I’m always interested in learning more about my home state. It was this that led me to create a new project for middle and junior high students (or younger if you want a challenge). Through a written report, poster, presentation, or brochure, your students will enjoy learning about Minnesota’s 87 counties via this new PBA (project-based assessment) and learning guide (found via the menu above). This PBA is multi-disciplinary as it involves reading, researching, writing, about a Minnesota county (and therefore includes social studies). Dependent on your needs and interests this project can easily be worked on independently or in a group setting. Each county has been formatted into the form of a bookmark.Simply print these pages and cut (there are four per page). To cut down on total pages, the listing of all 87 counties (designed to be the back of all bookmarks) precedes the individual pages. After learners have selected their county (via taking a bookmark or you have handed one to them), they will need to locate where their county is in the state of Minnesota. Have a Minnesota county map available at this time. You will see through the learner handout […]

Book Reports / Book Projects / PBAs

I’m happy to let you know that I’ve been working through many of the book reports and performance-based assessments / project-based assessments I’ve created since my undergraduate degree in order to update and reformat them. All of the PBAs include student choice as well as a range of activities designed to meet the interests of diverse groups of students. Enough are now revised that I’m ready to share a few with you! All of these projects are aimed at middle school and/or high school students. Please download what you find useful and share with anyone else who may be interested. I’ve provided you with three free below however funds are always appreciated as this work is done on my own time. Please consider purchasing through Teachers Pay Teachers or making a donation via the button provided at the end of this post. Amaryllis by Craig Crist-Evans Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett Sold by Patricia McCormick Finally, many of these projects would be suitable in a public library environment as a reading challenge for youth in middle or high school. If you have a book you’d like projects for or you simply want something reformatted, please email me! I’m happy to contract out my time and efforts. Happy […]

Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy

I wrote about Countdown by Deborah Wiles back in February of 2017 and am pleased to share a few resources for Revolution, the 2nd in the Sixties Trilogy by Deborah Wiles. While this documentary novel took me a bit longer to finish, I enjoyed it almost as much as the first in the series. I found the middle of the novel to be a bit slow however the storyline picked up once I reached the third part of the book. Revolution also steps it up a notch in terms of the maturity of the content included. I appreciated this as most of the readers of this novel would be older than they were for the first in the series and they would be building off of their prior knowledge. Just as the first novel did, this one includes a variety of primary documents throughout the text. This is one of the things I liked most as it asks readers to look into the time period and seek out information about the actual events of the time. I believe these novels would fit in well in any middle school or high school library collection. Additionally, these would be a great addition to a course […]

Laika Studios

This year I was fortunate enough to attend the 89th annual Oscar awards. An event that was inspiring, and oh so fun! Do you ever wonder about what goes into making a movie? Especially how the animators, artists, and storytellers create a feature film using mainly stop animation? Well, one of the movies nominated for an Oscar this year was Kubo and the Two Strings (Zootopia won the award). This film comes from the amazing Laika Studios and is a film that broke new ground in terms of the technologies used in combination with their signature stop animation style. You may be familiar with some of the other films Laika has created. Some of them include Boxtrolls, ParaNorman, Coraline, and Corpse Bride. Check out the videos below to learn more about the making of Kubo and the Two Strings. Visit www.laika.com to learn more about Laika. And of course, see the film! 7:09 minutes, Academy Original: 8:02 minutes, Behind the Scenes on Puppets: 6:20 minutes, Academy Original: Want even more videos but having a hard time finding them? Email me, I’m happy to assist! Most importantly, keep on making and creating! Your librarian, Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson is one of my personal heroes. During our time of climate change and the continued assaults happening to our environment, she’s an even more essential historical figure. On January 24, 2017, PBS aired Rachel Carson through the American Experience series. Whether you’re familiar with Carson and her work or not, this documentary will add to your knowledge base. She was a writer, biologist, naturalist, and advocate. She’s someone who stepped outside her comfort zone to speak out for wildlife and the environment. The program is almost 2 hours in length and would be fitting in a middle school or high school science class. It would also be great for an evening or weekend event family event that was for parents and children ages 12 and older. It’s always challenging catering to the interests and needs of our middle school and high school youth. This topic is one many of them are in support of and will get behind. Please email me and I’d be happy to send you the program materials and plan I would use for this type of event! In addition, Carson is one of the scientists featuring in the Scientist Learning Guide. Thanks for reading and […]

Countdown: The Sixties Trilogy

Having recently finished Countdown by Deborah Wiles, I wanted to share that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this documentary novel. It is the first of The Sixties Trilogy and is so fascinating because though the story is fictional, there are primary documents including photos, advertisements, song lyrics, and speeches interspersed throughout the book. I’m anxious to read Revolutionary (the second) next once my library hold arrives! I believe these novels would fit in well in any middle school or high school library collection. Additionally, these would be a great addition to a course on the 1960s. Have you created a course like this for middle or high school? Email me, I’m working on one! To the resources: Scholastic Book Discussion Guide – includes discussion questions, post-reading activities, an author interview, and websites for additional learning. Countdown PBA (performance-based assessment) – This PBA was created to give students a choice of activities to complete after reading Countdown. There are three different set-ups for this PBA. The first uses the tic-tac-to method of project choices (requires students to complete 3 activities), the second utilizes lists (requires students to complete 2 activities), and the third gives students a choice between all the […]

Infographic: 200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of “Good”

I was recently contacted by the creator of a handy infographic that fits in well with the  128 Words to Use Instead of “Very” infographic. I envision this being extremely helpful to writers of any age. Please take a minute to check out: 200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of “Good” In order to make the infographic a bit more accessible for those of you that prefer black-and-white versions of each section, I’ve created a multi-page PDF to accompany the original. There are a few words that have been removed and some added however the rest remains the same. Below are links to the full page and quarter page versions of all sections of the above infographic. Powerful Words to Use Instead of “Good” – full pages PDF Powerful Words to Use Instead of “Good” – quarter pages PDF As always, please contact me if there’s any way I can be of assistance. Your librarian, Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez

Quality Resource: Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences

Most people are familiar with the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences (AMPAS) for the Oscars; however, as a nonprofit they provide much, much more! Teacher’s Guide Series Their teacher’s guide series provides entire guides for middle and high school teachers to download and print about: animation – creating movement frame by frame art direction – the visual language of film costume design (en espanol) – defining character costumes and makeup – character by design documentaries – searching for the truth film editing – manipulating time and space screenwriting – the language of film sound and music – the power to enhance the story visual effects – seeing is believing These guides facilitate exploration of the art and science of motion pictures within the classroom. They are designed to tap students’ interest in film and the excitement of the Academy Awards to teach critical thinking, creative writing, and visual literacy. Events There are also many events hosted by AMPAS. Check their calendar to find out what’s coming next! Academy Originals Finally, one of my favorite things to check out are the Academy Originals. They are videos and photos focused on many different aspects of motion pictures. Two of my recent favorites are embedded below. The […]

The Great Wall of Los Angeles

This summer I was able to visit the Great Wall of Los Angeles. This was a destination that came up when I was searching for free things to do in Los Angeles that looked interesting. And though it looked like everyone else there was catching Pokemon, the mural completely exceeded our expectations. It’s an amazing depiction of California’s history from prehistoric times to the 1950s. Though a lot of the material was unfamiliar to me, it made me want to learn a lot more about the history of California. The mural is 1/2 mile in length and is located in the Tujuna Flood Control Channel of the San Fernando Valley. Most importantly, it was created by SPARC – the Social and Public Art Resource Center – that have been creating sites of public memory since 1976. This mural in particular began in the summer of 1976 with a team of 80 youths, 10 artists, and 5 historians collaborating under the direction of Chicana artist Judith Franciso Baca. By 1980 the mural was more than a 1/2 of a mile and had consumed some 600 gallons of paint and 65,000 kid-hours. To date the number of participating youths has reached over 400; however, this wall is […]

Quality Resource: Cursive Logic

Cursive handwriting is something that is in and out of the news due to people’s conflicting opinions on its usefulness. I was able to attend a seminar at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2015. It was there I learned about CursiveLogic. CursiveLogic is a simple, fun, and intelligent new way to teach cursive handwriting. First of all, the letters are grouped by shape in order for the entire lowercase alphabet to be learned. Expanding upon these shapes create letter strings to capture the flow of cursive handwriting. There are also visual and auditory cues using theme colors and verbal task analysis. If you’re asking yourself why cursive, what’s the method, and/or what does the workbook look like? Simply use the links and learn more at CursiveLogic!