Review of The Fallout

imageI’m trying to expand my blogging habits a bit by writing about the books I read and how I might use them in the classroom. here’s my first post:

I started and finished The Fallout by S.A. Bodeen laying on the beach in the Cayman Islands yesterday. It is the sequel to the wildly popular The Compound and by wildly, I mean my students loved it. It’s been a while since I read the first one, but it wasn’t difficult to pick up the story line. Eli, the protagonist of this sci-fi novel, is picking up the pieces of a normal life when, once more, everything he knows is turned upside down and he is faced with very real dangers to him and his family.

How I would use this in my classroom:

  • I would read some excerpts-once you read the first chapter aloud, chances are you will have kids clamoring to read it.
  • Use the beginning of the novel as an example in a writer’s craft lesson. The novel hooks the reader in quickly. I would facilitate a discussion about what Bodeen does that works. Why do we want to continue reading?
  • Sentence variety. BOden does  a nice job of varying sentence structure. You could spur a discussion about the impact on the reader.
  • Several chapters in, the family makes an important trip to Costco. I know what Costco is, but I was left wondering if all readers have been to Costco and would understand how that setting is helping to drive the events in the novel. I think writers would benefit from hearing this chapter read aloud (short, like most of them) and then talking about the pros and cons of using such a specific setting in their writing.

Things that I like to know about YA books:

  • Character development: eh. Static teen characters put in unlikely positions
  • Genre: sci-fi. No aliens-medical sci-fi (at least I hope it’s not real)
  • Bad language: none
  • Sex: none (just a quick smooch at one point-nothing startling)
  • Drugs/alcohol: none

I’d recommend this novel to any of my readers. Quick-moving storyline.


Lollipop Moments

My principal throws herself, heart and soul, into everything she does. She works hard and is creative in finding opportunities for teachers to grow. When she found out the What Great Educators Do Differently conference was coming to our town, she found a way to take 15 of us. I’ve been to a lot of conferences and this was one of the best. I have so many take-aways and so many ideas in my notes and in my head, but I want to address just one today. Lollipop moments.

Jeff Zoul and Jimmy Casas were presenting (forgive me, I don’t remember who specifically talked about those moments) and one of them talked about the lollipop moments in our lives. Lollipop moments, according to them, are when someone does or says something that makes your life fundamentally better; no matter how big or how small. We need to share those lollipop moments with those who have impacted us so they know how important they are. I’m 50 and I have a lot of those moments, so I think I’ll just start with yesterday.

Kate Kitchens  you energized me yesterday! Thanks for being so excited in the workroom about writing your first blog post. You inspired me to make my conference reflections and learning from the conference public. Your blog got me thinking about what I usually do with notes and ideas from conferences and what I want to START doing with notes and ideas from conferences. So thanks for making a difference in my learning life, Kate! You’re a great educator!image


Grandparenting Fail

Sunday evening as we sat down to dinner, my daughter-in-law (dil) called sobbing; the dogs got out. She and my son (currently working on an oil rig-no lie, there’s still at least one working) have three furry children. One of them, Layla, is a rescue and extremely obedient. The other two came to them as puppies, are best friends, and trouble makers.

Woody, a two-year-old beagle, and Bo, an eight-month-old GIANT lab, made a break for it when she was taking them out for a walk. Bo was collarless for reasons I still don’t understand, but Woody was sporting his collar. Dil saw them take off down a busy street, Bo’s mouth pulled into a giant grin, ears whipping in the wind. She gave chase, but four legs – actually eight, I guess – are faster than two. She ran back to the house, grabbed her phone and frantically hit dial. We dropped everything and headed over. By we, I mean my husband, daughter, son-in-law (sil), and my seven-month-old granddaughter. Daughter and sil took their truck and hubs and I took the baby in my car. We spread out, searching all the neighborhoods near their home.

It was getting dark and hubs decided we should check to see if maybe the rascals ran home. We pulled into the driveway, he got out of the car to check the backyard, and I got out of the car to check the front yard-the card was still running because we were planning on getting right back in. That’s when the week really went awry. We both closed our doors. And they locked. And the baby was in the car. It was like sloooow mooooootion…first the desperate pulling of the door handle, next the running to all doors and desperately pulling the handles, finally the realization that we locked the baby in the car. We managed to raise two children to adulthood and never one locked them in a car! How could this happen??

Hubs screamed (although he claims he did not, he did) , “Why did you lock the doors????!”

“I didn’t!” I yelled back, “I just got out and closed my door! They locked by themselves!”

“Who’s going to call daughter and explain that her mom locked her baby in the car??” he demanded.

Well, there was no need to worry about that call because daughter and sil rolled up at that moment to check to see if the dogs returned and why I wasn’t answering my phone…it was in the locked car. Hubs quickly explained what happened, described exactly where the spare key to the car was hidden in the house (allegedly from me who would “lose” it) and daughter and sil jumped back in their truck and headed home to retrieve it. I couldn’t understand why I was the only one panicking. Yes, it was cool outside, yes the car was running with the ac on, and yes, she was asleep, but still. SHE WAS LOCKED IN THE CAR!

Just after they left to retrieve the key, dil rolled up in her car; the dogs were not with her. She was still sobbing when son called from the rig anxious about the whereabouts of the dogs and then horrified to learn they were still lost AND we locked his niece in our car. My mom beeped in to check on whether we found the dogs only to hear that the dogs were still missing and great-granddaughter was now locked in the car. Shortly after that conversation we heard the sirens of emergency vehicles. Had the neighbors heard the commotion and called 911? We all stood like statues and waited to hear if the sirens turned in or passed us by. They passed us by.

Fortunately we live ten minutes from my son and dil, so it didn’t take long for daughter to return with the key. About the time they returned with the key and popped open the doors, dil’s phone rang. THE DOGS WERE FOUND! They had run a good five miles and a kind stranger coaxed them into their yard with some crackers. She set off to retrieve them and we headed home.

Later that evening, daughter and I were talking about all that transpired. I was feeling a lot of guilt about LOCKING MY GRAND IN THE CAR. She said she wasn’t worried. It wasn’t hot, the ac was on in the car, and baby was asleep. It was through this grandparenting fail that I learned how much trust our daughter has in us. She knew, she said, that if it was hot or the ac wasn’t on, her dad would have busted out a window to get to our nugget and she was right.