Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stump Mr. Gacek Results

As expected, I got some tough questions for "Stump Mr. Gacek!" at the Nova Auction. Altogether 9 questions were asked. I answered 2 of 9 correctly. That's a .222 batting average. Not what I was hoping for, but, hey those were tough questions.

Here are the questions I got correct and the students whose parents asked the questions:

1. What city will host a Major League Soccer expansion team next year? (Leah D.)

2. Who was the shortest player in Major League history and what team did he play for? (Chase W.)Here are the questions I got incorrect:

1. Roberto Clemente wore the number "21" for a specific reason. What was it? (Casey W.)

2. Francis Michael "Whitey" Wistert was the first of three brothers who were All-American tackles in the Big Ten Conference. Whitey played 3 games in the major leagues. With which team did he play them? (Katie M.)

3. Name 3 of the 5 career leaders in on-base percentage in the Major Leagues. (Mr. Kenis)

4. Before Babe Ruth broke the all-time home run record, whose record did he break? (Alex E.)

5. The Golden Compass series of books by Philip Pullman feature people's souls taking animal forms. What other fantasy series published in the last 10 years also features people's souls taking the form of animals? (Hadrian B.)

6. What country is the world's largest producer of citrus fruits? (Natalie R.)

7. What city of at least 1,000,000 people is the farthest in the world from another city with a population of at least 1,000,000 people? (Gabe R.)

The winners will all receive a "I Stumped Mr. Gacek!" t-shirt. Non-winners will receive an "I Failed to Stump Mr. Gacek!" t-shirt. Altogether this event raised $450 for the financial aid fund at Nova. Thanks to all the parents for playing and for students for prodding your parents to play!

And you can play along at home. If you can get more correct than I did, then you are a trivia master!

The answers can be found here.

Oh, and I also won a raffle. I won the life-size cut-out of Catherine Zeta-Jones. Awesome!

Mystery Novel Essay

The essay is due Wednesday, March 10.

The instructions for the essay can be found here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Geo Quiz #25: Oceania

Friday, April 23

Countries: Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand.
States of Australia: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia.
Territories of Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory.

A blank map of Australia can be found here. If you want to print this map, view the map in Print Preview, and "shrink to fit" down to 30%. That should do it. A map with the states and territories of Australia labelled can be found here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Review: "When You Reach Me," by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 2009

When I was a kid and had to stay home sick from school, I always enjoyed spending the morning watching game shows. I liked Match Game, The Joker's Wild, SuperPassword, and, of course, The $25,000 Pyramid. This particular game show (yes, the one hosted by Dick Clark) plays a prominent role in Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me. Miranda is a 12-year-old New Yorker whose mother is preparing to be a contestant on the $20,000 Pyramid (as it was known in the Seventies). Quite often when she returned home from school Miranda would get that day's clues from the game show from her neighbor, who had watched that day's show (this was before VCR's and way before DVR's). Then she would dutifully record the clues on note cards. In the evening Miranda, her mom, and Richard, her mom's boyfriend, would practice giving and answering clues in the manner of the game show. This is kind of a quirky detail to work into the plot. The intended audience of this book, middle grade readers, I'm sure will have never heard of the $20,000 Pyramid before reading this book, and very few of them will know who Dick Clark is. But it's the quirky details which make this book great.

I loved this book, and the middle school readers I know who have read it have loved it as well. It won the 2010 Newbery Medal. When You Reach Me is above all a poignant book about friendship. Miranda has always been best friends with her neighbor, Sal, but after a perplexing chain of events, Miranda and Sal drift apart. Miranda starts hanging out with two new friends, Annemarie and Colin. My favorite detail in the whole book is that back in 1970's New York, middle school students could leave campus for lunch and hang out at the deli or pizza place in the neighborhood. Miranda, Annemarie, and Sal decide to spend their 45-minute lunch periods actually working at the deli across the street from their school (they are paid with sandwiches and sodas). Those were the days! The actual plot concerns a mystery, and there are some science fiction elements in the story as well. I won't give away any spoilers, but I will say that A Wrinkle in Time is featured prominently in the story, and that there are comparisons which could be made between this book and recent episodes of Lost. This is a great book, one that I think will be enjoyed by many future generations of young readers. It's that good.

Geography Trimester 2 Final

The Trimester 2 Final will occur Wednesday, March 3.

It will cover Geo Quizzes #10--#19 and Map Scale.

Geo Quiz #10: Southeastern Europe
Geo Quiz #11: Southeastern United States
Geo Quiz #12: Eastern Europe
Geo Quiz #13: Europe Physical Features & Bodies of Water
Geo Quiz: #14: Northern Africa
Geo Quiz #15: Western Africa
Geo Quiz #16: Central Africa
Geo Quiz #17: Southern Africa
Geo Quiz #18: Eastern Africa
Geo Quiz #19: Africa Physical Features

A blank map of Africa can be found here.
A map with the countries of Africa labelled can be found here.
A blank map of Europe can be found here.
A blank map of the United States can be found here.

Geo Quiz #10: Southeastern Europe

Friday, December 4, 2009.
Italy, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia.

Geo Quiz #11: Southeastern United States

States: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.
Cities: Atlanta, Miami, Tampa, Nashville, Birmingham.

Geo Quiz #12: Eastern Europe

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia.

Geo Quiz #13: Europe Physical Features & Bodies of Water

Rivers: Danube, Rhine, Seine, Thames, Volga.
Mountain Ranges: Alps, Caucasus, Pyrenees, Urals.
Seas: Mediterranean, North, Baltic, Adriatic, Aegean, Black.

Geo Quiz #14: Northern Africa

Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia, Western Sahara.

Geo Quiz #15: West Africa

Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

3 Special Books

Ms. Flynn has donated 3 books to the Nova Library in honor of her late father, Ralph Flynn. These books were among Mr. Flynn's very favorite books.

Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison (1952).
In Invisible Man, a black man's search for success and the American dream leads him out of college and to Harlem, where he experiences a growing sense of personal rejection and social invisiblity.

Black Boy, by Richard Wright (1945).
Black Boy is an autobiography by Richard Wright about his childhood growing up in the South. He would eventually move north to escape the racism of the South. He established his writing career in Chicago.

Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton (1948).
Cry, the Beloved Country is the story of Stephen Kumalo, a black Anglican priest from a rural Natal town who searches for his son Absalom in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa.

During the third trimester this year, Silent Reading students will need to pick a book to read as part of a book group, and 7th and 8th grade Language Arts students will need to read a "classic" independent reading choice. Each of these three books would be excellent selections for either of these purposes.

Geo Quiz #39: Western Europe

Cities: Lisbon, Porto, Madrid, Seville, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes.
Rivers: Tagus, Douro, Ebro, Loire, Seine, Rhone.
Countries: Andorra, Monaco.
Bodies of Water: Bay of Biscay, Gulf of Lyon.
Islands: Balearic Islands, Corsica.
Mountains: Mt. Estrela, Mt. Blanc.

A blank map of France is here.
A blank map of Spain is here.

Geo Quiz #38: Italy

Cities: Turin, Genoa, Milan, Verona, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo.
Mountain Ranges: Apennines.
Mountains: Mt. Vesuvius, Mt. Etna.
Islands: Sicily, Sardinia.
Rivers: Po, Arno, Tiber.
Bodies of Water: Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Gulf of Taranto, Strait of Messina.

You can find a blank map of Italy here.

Geo Quiz #24: Asia Physical Features

Friday, April 16

Rivers: Euphrates, Huang He (Yellow), Indus, Irrawaddy, Mekong, Yangtze, Ganges.
Mountain Ranges: Himalayas, Hindu Kush
Bodies of Water: Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Aral Sea, Lake Baikal
Deserts: Gobi Desert
A blank map of Asia can be found here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Geo Quiz #23: Middle East and Western Asia

Friday, April 2.

Middle East: Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.

Western Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

This quiz is worth twenty points. You should start practicing the spelling of the Western Asia countries now!

You can find a printable map of the region with the countries labelled here.

You can find a printable blank map of the region here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winterim Reading Goals

No homework over Winterim Week!

However, it is my expectation that you keep up with your independent reading over the Winterim Week. You will turn in your Winterim Reading Goals tomorrow in Geography. For your goals, please break up the week into the following three segments:

A) Weekend #1: Saturday, Sunday, Monday
B) Winterim Week Proper: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
C) Weekend #2: Saturday, Sunday

For each segment, record the following goals: Total amount of time you would like to spend reading (estimated to nearest quarter hour) during that segment; number of books (or fractions of books) you would like to read during that segment of the week; and the names of the books you would like to read during that segment.

There are no minimum requirements per se. You might have obligations during one of these segments which would prevent you from getting much reading done. Set a realistic goal, but make it a goal which will challenge you to get a significant amount of reading in.

Monday, February 22, is the deadline for finishing your Independent Reading mystery choice book.

Silent Reading students also have a non-fiction book to read if they have not already done so.

Make use of the Nova Library during Winterim; it will be open.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winterim Movie Ballot

Voting for the Winterim movie will take place Thursday, February 11.

There will be 5 movies on the ballot:

1. Coraline (2009) directed by Henry Selick.
Coraline was directed by Henry Selick, who previously created the animation in The Nightmare Before Christmas. The stop-motion film was based on the book Coraline by Neil Gaiman. It is nominated for a 2010 Academy Award for Best Animated Film. Read Tasha Robinson's review for The Onion A/V Club here.

2. Up (2009) directed by Pete Docter.
Up is Pixar Animation's latest masterpiece. It is nominated for 2010 Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Animated Film. Read Roger Ebert's review here.

3. WALL-E (2008) directed by Andrew Stanton.
WALL-E is Pixar Animation's recent Science Fiction Masterpiece. It won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Animated Film. Read A.O. Scott's review in The New York Times here.

4. Ratatouille (2007) directed by Brad Bird.
Ratatouille is Pixar's brilliant tale about a rat who loves to cook. It won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Animated Film. Read Kenneth Turan's review in The Los Angeles Times here.

5. Howl's Moving Castle (2004) directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
Howl's Moving Castle is a fantasy film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, who also directed the anime classics My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. It is based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones. It won Animation of the Year at 2005 Tokyo International Anime Fair. Read Kenneth Turan's review in The Los Angeles Times here.

Please note: Where the Wild Things Are, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Ponyo were considered but are not available at this time. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Punctuation Assessment Re-Test

Wednesday, February 24.

Mystery Reading Group #3: Thursday, February 11.

For your journal entry, write 4 open-ended discussion questions pertaining to the reading. Choose 2 of the questions to answer with responses of 4 or more sentences. The other two questions do not require answers. Also, choose one pertinent passage to share with your group.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Stump Mr. Gacek!

That's right, at the Nova Auction, you will have the opportunity to stump Mr. Gacek. Parents will have the chance to bid on the opportunity to ask Mr. Gacek one trivia question. If Mr. Gacek misses the question, he is "stumped" and the winning question asker wins a limited edition "I Stumped Mr. Gacek" t-shirt. These will obviously become valuable collector's items. Parents will be able to choose a t-shirt either for themselves or for their Nova student.

If Mr. Gacek answers the question correctly, the question asker still gets a prize: an "I Failed To Stump Mr. Gacek" t-shirt.

Now, questions must be either baseball-related or geography-related (or related somehow to Mr. Gacek's areas of expertise). Mr. Gacek doesn't claim to be an expert in everything; his knowledge of Broadway musicals, for example, is sorely lacking.

Questions should be challenging, but Mr. Gacek must have at least a chance of answering the question correctly. The answer to the question cannot be a number. If you are unsure whether a question you'd like to ask is a good question, you can e-mail Mr. Kenis and he'll give you thumbs up or thumbs down.

As you're reading this, Mr. Gacek is stuying in preparation for this event. Good luck!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Review: "Zeitoun," by Dave Eggers

Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers
McSweeney's Books, 2009

The story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun is quite a story. Zeitoun was born in Syria and spent his twenties traveling the world working aboard ships. In his thirties he chose to give up this life, and he chose to settle in New Orleans, Louisiana. He would eventually marry a Louisiana native who had converted to Islam in her twenties. Zeitoun started up a painting company in New Orleans and became a successful small business owner.

When Katrina struck, Zeitoun decided to ride out the storm. After the levees failed and New Orleans flooded, Zeitoun paddled around the city helping neighbors and animals. There are some beutiful passages in the book describing Zeitoun exploring this surreal and at times serene environment.

The reverie is broken, however. Zeitoun and three other men are arrested. They are not ever actually accused of a crime, but they are suspected of suspicious behavior. The experience of their incarceration is beyond horrible. Though there is no evidence linking Zeitoun or any of the other three men to terrorism, it is clear that the government agencies responsible for their detainment considered them possible terrorists.

The story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun is a great story because it is an inspiring story. Zeitoun built his painting and contracting business through good, honest hard work. He loves the architecture of the city of New Orleans and has worked tirelessly to restore it, both before and after the storm. Immediately after the storm, he selflessly gave aid to many in need. He suffered great indignities due to the incompetence of government agencies. His wife and family suffered terrific mental anguish due to his incarceration. It was a terrible, terrible experience for the Zeitoun family. The story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his family underscores the failure of the governmental response to Hurricane Katrina.

Dave Eggers tells the story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun in a very straight-forward manner. It is a very accessible book. I would recommend it to adults and students about age 13 and up. The subject matter in the latter half of the book is a bit unsettling. It is quite a story. I recommend this book highly. It is unbelievable that the events in this book happened. But they did happen, and it is valuable to know of them. Read this book.

Geo Quiz #37: Oceania Physical Features

Mountain Ranges: Great Dividing Range, Australian Alps.
Mountains: Mt. Kosciusko, Mt. Cook, Mt. Wilhelm.
Deserts: Simpson Desert, Great Victoria Desert, Great Sandy Desert.
Rivers: Murray River, Darling River.
Rocks: Uluru (Ayers Rock).
Peninsulas: Cape York Peninsula.
Bodies of Water: Tasman Sea, Coral Sea, Arafura Sea, Timor Sea, Great Australian Bight, Gulf of Carpenteria, Bass Strait, Torres Strait.

Geo Quiz #36: Oceania Cities

Papua New Guinea: Port Moresby
Australian Capital Territory: Canberra
New South Wales: Sydney
Northern Territory: Alice Springs, Darwin
Queensland: Brisbane
South Australia: Adelaide
Tasmania: Hobart
Victoria: Melbourne
Western Australia: Perth
New Zealand: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin

Geo Quiz #22: South Asia

Friday, March 26.

Countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
Cities: Kabul, Karachi, Mumbai, New Delhi.

A map of South Asia can be found here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nova Library Wish List

I maintain a list of books I would like to add to the Nova Library. If you would like to donate a book or books, that would be fantastic. You can check out the list here.

We also just renewed our subscriptions to Time Magazine, National Geographic, and Shonen Jump. If you would like to sponsor a magazine subscription, this would also be much appreciated.

Thank you for supporting the Nova Library! It is a great resource for our students.

Mystery Book Group Meeting #2

Tuesday, February 9.

Please complete your discussion questions on a separate sheet of paper.

Question 1. What has surprised you most in the mystery thus far? Answer with at least 4 sentences.

Question 2. Write your own open-ended discussion question and answer with at least 4 sentences.

Questions 3 & 4: Write 2 additional open-ended questions that you would like to pose during your discussion. You do not need to answer these questions.

Geo Quiz #21: Southeast Asia

Friday, March 19.

Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mystery Book Group Reading Schedule

Meeting #1: Thursday, February 5.
Meeting #2: Tuesday, February 9.
Meeting #3: Thursday, February 11.

Please come to each meeting prepared with your book, your discussion questions, and a passage marked for discussion.

Geo Quiz #20: East Asia

Friday, March 12.

Countries: China, Japan, Mongolia, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan.
Capitals: Beijing, Tokyo, Ulan Bator, Seoul, Pyongyang, Taipei.

You can download a blank printable map of East Asia here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Geo Quiz #35: Asia Cities

China: Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou.
Tibet: Lhasa.
Japan: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagasaki.
South Korea: Seoul, Busan (Pusan).
Myanmar: Naypyidaw, Yangon (Rangoon).
Laos: Vientiane.
Vietnam: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Cambodia: Phnom Penh.
Thailand: Bangkok.
Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur.
Indonesia: Jakarta.
Philippines: Manila.
Brunei: Bandar Seri Begawan.

Geo Quiz #19: Africa Physical Features

Friday, February 26.

Rivers: Congo, Niger, Nile, Zambezi.
Lakes: Albert, Chad, Malawi (Nyasa), Turkana, Tanganyika, Victoria.
Mountain Ranges: Atlas Mountains, Drakensberg Highlands.

A blank map of African rivers can be found here.
A map with African rivers labelled can be found here.
A blank map of Africa can be found here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Geo Quiz #18: East Africa

Friday, February 12.

Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda.

Cleveland Plain Dealer Interviews Bill Watterson

Bill Watterson, creator of 'Calvin and Hobbes,' never grants interviews. He's tried to avoid all publicity as much as possible. He recently granted a tiny interview to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, his hometown newspaper. I've always admired Watterson, because he's always wanted the comic strip to speak for itself. It's now been 15 years since 'Calvin' appeared in newspapers. I loved 'Calvin and Hobbes' as a kid and I think it's fantastic that new generations of readers love the comics just as much as I did. Thank you, Bill Watterson. Thank you.