Novel Review: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

I read this book through Net Galley (thank you!). I have not yet read Code Name Verity. But, of course, it is high on my list. I was very interested in this book as my husband is very into aviation and I’m always on the look-out for female pilot role models for my daughter. I also happen to be Jewish, so the Holocaust and the atrocities that happened during WWII are innately interesting to me. This book, then, was intriguing to me on both levels. I found Rose Justice to be a great role model for young girls everywhere. She was brave, noble, daring, and yet imperfect. I highly enjoyed the first part of the book wherein we learn about Rose as an American ATA, a transport pilot in England. It definitely gets much deeper when she is sent to Ravensbruck, the exact way in which she is sent I will leave unspoiled. At Ravensbruck, Rose gains friends that have had horrible things done to them in the name of medicine (called the Rabbits). Horrible isn’t even the word for it; there is no word- in any language. Speaking of which, as an English Language teacher, I loved all the talk about language and all of the poetry. I work in a K-12 building and I can just see the English department using this book to teach cross-curricularly with the history department. All of the poetry that abounds, both by Millay and original were inspiring and allowed me a an extra layer of reading to this novel. Teachers would enjoy using the poems as well. I thought the technique of writing in memoir was perfect. As the author states in the end, Rose could only write about what she knew and saw. As a reader, we know there was much more harm done there and across Europe by the Nazis, but by keeping this in the first person perspective, we feel what it was like to be Rose. All in all, this book was a favorite for the year for me, so far. It will haunt me for long while.


Google Site

Yesterday, I was developing my unit plan for our new novel study, I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. As I was doing this, I was trying to figure out the best delivery model for the assessment pieces (vocabulary, comprehension, collaboration). I found this teacher’s wiki: This was exactly as I wanted to do. I started recreating it on my wikispaces (which I hardly ever use), but then realized I had everything I already wanted at my Google Site. My ELLs are already pretty comfortable with getting on the site. We’ve saved it to our home screens for easy access. I currently use the site for uploading class files and giving them their warm-ups. All I had to do was grant them access to edit and we were set for the collaboration piece. I created pages for the vocabulary and the comprehension. I left the vocabulary blank, because I want this to come organically from our reading. I bought the book as an iBook. Students will use the highlighter tool. We can then add these words to our google site and do the student-friendly definitions and translations. As for the comprehension, I wanted it to look like a discussion forum. Google Sites does not have this embedded (yet), so I had to create an outside one and use an iframe to embed the forum. I chose Lefora based upon a recommendation. I emailed the students invites. Hopefully, this all goes smoothly. We shall see today at 1:06. #wishmeluck

My Perfect Digital Textbook

I have a vision. It is so clear; it’s almost as if I can feel the digital pages curling beneath my fingers. The textbook would be full of the most current content available on the web. It would have important people and ideas hyperlinked to 3D images that can be spun with the flick of a finger. I’m thinking of a bust of Mozart being able to be turned to see all 360 degrees. It would have vocabulary linked to the glossary, which was also in every language available on sites like Google Translate. Speaking of which, the entire textbook could change languages at the tap of a button on each page or as a setting for the whole book. Timelines would not be static; they would be dynamic, interactive hyperlinks. At the tap of a button on the timeline, images, video, and links within the textbook would become available. Charts, graphs, and tables could be drilled down to access even more data. Maps would of course be Google Earth-like. Videos would be embedded throughout with additional content. Music would even be included as an extra insight into something historical, cultural, or artistic. The typical quiz/review features would be clickable quizzes which provided students with feedback and show more content to help them understand what they missed. Project-based learning and social networking would be embedded throughout with instant access to twitter feeds, wikis, blogs, and creation apps to enhance the learning. This is my vision for the perfect digital textbook. Does it exist?