Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nova NCAA Tournament Prediction Contest Leaderboard

1.  Mr. Kenis  196 pts.
2.  Rosa  194 pts.
3.  Sahana  188 pts.
4.  Spencer J.  184 pts.
5.  Pasang  178 pts.
6.  Ben Wh.  180 pts.
7.  Aaron  178 pts.
8.  Colin H.  176 pts.

Who knew Rosa was so knowledgable about college basketball!

The only people listed above with teams still alive in the tournament are Mr. Kenis and Pasang.  In the Kentucky-Connecticut semi-final, if Kentucky wins, Pasang wins the contest.  If Connecticut wins, Mr. Kenis wins the contest.  And whoever wins the contest wins 20 bucks worth of pizza at Vic's.

I just hope the game goes into overtime.

And that Virginia Commonwealth shocks the world.

International Fiction

 For this assignment, you will be writing a letter to the protagonist of the international fiction book you read.

Your letter will have two parts.

In the first part, relate your experience reading about their experience in the book. What did you think of what the character had to go through in the book? In answering this question, describe specific events from the book which helped to give you this opinion. If you admired the character’s actions, write about what it was you admired and why. If you had a different experience reading the book, write about what that experience was and why you had that experience.

In the second part of your letter, relate differences in culture and geography between what is depicted in the book and what you are used to. Tell the character which cultural or geographic elements from the book seemed unusual to you. Then relate how these cultural or geographic elements would compare with the cultural customs and geographic features you are familiar with. Relate to the character whether you found the cultural or geographic differences interesting or strange or something different altogether.

Letters need a date, greeting, closing, and signature. A postscript is optional.
Letters should be at least a full page, typed, and 1.5 line spaced, with size 14 font and Times New Roman or Calibri font.

6th Grade International Fiction Book List
The Killing Sea, Richard Lewis, Indonesia
Rice Without Rain, Minfong Ho, Thailand
Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind, Suzanne Fisher Staples, Pakistan
Iqbal, Francesco D’Adamo, Pakistan
Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortensen, Pakistan (non-fiction)
Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet, Kashmira Sheth, India
Sold, Patricia McCormick: Nepal
Red Scarf Girl, Ji Li Jiang, China
Shizuko’s Daughter, Kyoki Mori, Japan
When My Name Was Keoko, Linda Sue Park, South Korea
The Breadwinner, Deborah Ellis, Afghanistan
Keeping Corner, Kashmira Sheth, India
Forgotten Fire, Adam Bagasarian, Turkey
Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, Ibitsam Barakat , Israel/Palestine (non-fiction)
Habibi, Naomi Shihab Nye, Israel/Palestine
AK, Peter Dickinson, fictional African country
The Door of No Return, Sarah Mussi, Ghana
The Other Side of Truth, Beverly Naidoo, Nigeria/U.K.
Child of Dandelions, Sheenaz Nanji, Uganda
Burn My Heart, Beverly Naidoo, Kenya
Facing the Lion: Growing up Maasai on the African Savanna, Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton, Kenya (non-fiction)
The Garbage King, Elizabeth Laird, Ethiopia
A Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park, Sudan
Song of Be, Lesley Beake, Namibia
Walkabout, James Vance Marshall, Australian Outback
Does My Head Look Big In This?, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Australia
Maya Running, Anjali Bannerjee, Canada
Before We Were Free, Julia Alvarez, Dominican Republic
Red Glass, Laura Resau, Mexico
The Keeper, Mal Peet, Brazil
I Am A Taxi, Deborah Ellis, Bolivia
Zazoo, Richard Mosher, France/Vietnam

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nova Fantasy Baseball

Mr. Kenis and Mr. Gacek will be hosting a fantasy baseball draft for Nova baseball fans on Opening Day, Friday, April 1, from 5:30-9:00 at Nova.  Yes, the draft really does take that long.  We draft teams of MLB players.  Over the course of the season, the team with the best overall statistics will be crowned Nova Baseball Champion.  The league champion will receive a jumbo pack of baseball cards.  There will be pizza, chips, and drinks, and we ask that you contribute 5 bucks to help pay for the grub.  Let Mr. Gacek know if you'd like to attend.  It's almost Opening Day!  Winter is almost over!

Activity Logs

Students will be recording their activities for the week on their log sheets.  Students need to record every distinct activity they participate in on their logs and to record the times for the activities.  Activities should be named as simply as possible.

Record the entire time you are at school as one big chunk on your log.  Likewise, record all the stuff you do in the morning to get ready for school as one big chunk.

Activity logs are due Friday, April 1.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Banner

Thanks to Juyoun for creating the new banner for Gacekblog.  Can you identify all the references to the great Sherlock Holmes?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mystery Essay

Your goal with this paper is to prove that a particular mystery novel is an effective mystery. To do this, you will need to choose 3 mystery traits contained in the novel of your choice. You will then demonstrate that each mystery trait is present in your novel. Thus you will prove that the novel is an effective mystery.

Your essay will have 5 paragraphs. The first paragraph will be the introduction. The middle 3 paragraphs will be body paragraphs. Each body paragraph will cover a single trait. The last paragraph will be the closing paragraph.

Do not use forms of the “I” pronoun in your essay. An essay is an example of formal writing.

Incorrect: “I think The Westing Game is an effective mystery.”
Correct: “The Westing Game is an effective mystery.”

Underline all book titles. Do not abbreviate book titles.

Your Mystery Essay needs a title. You may not title your Mystery Essay “Mystery Essay.” An acceptable title would be: “Mystery Traits in The Hound of the Baskervilles.”

Paragraph 1: Introduction

First introduce the book title and author. Explain that mystery books have certain traits unique to the genre. Name the 3 traits you have identified as being present in your book. Define each trait. Do not give specific examples of the traits in the introduction. Describe the traits generally. Finally, the last sentence of the paragraph should be your thesis statement. The thesis statement states simply what your essay is trying to prove. It should read something like this: “[Name of Book] is an effective mystery because it contains [trait #1], [trait #2], and [trait #3].”

Paragraphs 2-4: Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph must begin with a topic sentence. Explain which mystery trait is being covered in the topic sentence. Then describe the trait as it appears in the novel. Be specific in regards to names of people, places, and events. Assume your reader has not read the book. You need to describe the trait so that it is clear to the reader that the trait is present in the book.

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

At the beginning of the conclusion, repeat the 3 traits found in your mystery novel. For the rest of the paragraph, comment upon whether your book was a typical or atypical mystery. A typical mystery would adhere to the mystery traits completely. An atypical mystery would include some mystery traits but not all of them. An atypical mystery would take a more unique form. Explain which traits are present if the book is a typical mystery. Explain which traits are lacking if it is an atypical mystery. Finally, comment upon whether being a typical or atypical novel helps the novel in terms of being an effective mystery.

Please use size 14 font and 1.5 line spacing.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

So Close

Photo Credit: Dean Rutz/Seattle Times
With 7.4 seconds left to play, Washington trailed 84-83.  They needed to inbound the ball from underneath their own basket to attempt a game-winning shot.  They didn't get that chance.  Justin Holliday's inbound pass was deflected by North Carolina's John Henson and North Carolina recovered.  North Carolina's Leslie Strickland was fouled and he made his two foul shots.  Still, Washington got the ball with 5.3 seconds left in the game, down by three.  Venoy Overton dribbled up the court and took a wild half court shot.  It wasn't even close, but a North Carolina player deflected it out of bounds.  Washington would again inbound the ball from underneath its own basket, this time with 0.5 seconds remaining.  The pass was to Isaiah Thomas.  Thomas shot and missed, but replays showed Henson might have committed goaltending.  No call from the refs, though, and the game was over.  Further replays showed that even if the shot had gone in or goaltending was called, it was a two-pointer, and Washington would have lost regardless.

Washington led much of the game.  The led by as much as 11 in the first half.  However, they committed costly errors in the last 5 minutes of the game and North Carolina capitalized.  Terrence Ross had a key turnover with 2 minutes left.  Ross, C.J. Wilcox, Holliday, Thomas, Darnell Gant, and Bryan-Amaning all missed key shots in that stretch.  Overall, Washington played a very good game.  It wasn't enough to beat a very talented North Carolina team, though.

Terrence Ross was the star for the Huskies, scoring 19 points.  Washington actually outrebounded North Carolina; Aziz N'Daiye grabbed 11 boards.  After early foul trouble, neither N'Daiye nor Bryan-Amaning fouled out.  Unfortunately, Isaiah Thomas was off his game.  He only managed 12 points off 5-15 shooting.

These types of losses are always disappointing.  This will ultimately be remembered as a flawed team.  An exciting team, yet prone to mistakes.  This was the last game for seniors Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Justin Holliday, and Venoy Overton.  All three had great contributions to the team over their four years at UW.  Next year the Huskies will be back.  Until then, we have the rest of the NCAA tournament to enjoy.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Washington Advances

Washington played just well enough to win, defeating Georgia by a score of 68-65. 
Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Isaiah Thomas scored 19 points for the Huskies.  Washington's shooting was dreadful in the first half, as Georgia built an early lead.  Washington managed to come back, however, to tie the score at the half.

Washington was much better to start the second half.  They were able to play at an up-tempo pace and they hit some key shots.  They built a double-digit lead and threatened to put the game away.  But Georgia mounted a comeback and made it close in the final minute.  Georgia had a chance to tie the game with a last-second three-point attempt, but Thomas managed to partially deflect a full-court pass to Georgia's Travis Leslie, and Leslie's shot was off the mark.

The Huskies will take the victory.  However, they'll need to play much better to defeat North Carolina.  They will need Matthew Bryan-Amaning to stay out of foul trouble.  They will need Terrence Ross to be a part of the offense.  And they'll need some luck.  It should be an exciting game.

Washington Huskies vs. North Carolina Tar Heels: Sunday, March 20, 9:30 a.m., CBS Channel 7.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Africa Field Reports

Here are the field reports filed in response the crises which occurred across Africa in early 2011:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Geo Quiz #33: South America Capitals

Santiago, Chile (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Buenos Aires, La Paz, Brasilia, Santiago, Bogota, Quito, Georgetown, Asuncion, Lima, Paramaribo, Monevideo, Caracas, Cayenne.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Set Your DVR's

Photo: Brian Spurlock/US Presswire
Washington will play Georgia at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, March 18 in the NCAA basketball tournament.  Now, the NOVA School production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory will premiere that night at 7:00.  You all will want to go see this awesome show.  NOVA theater rocks!  Therefore, if your family has a DVR, you need to record the Washington game so that you can watch it at your convenience.  It airs on CBS, channel 7.

Nate Silver has an excellent post up on FiveThirtyEight about how unlucky the Huskies were in their draw for the tournament.  They have to travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, to play Georgia in the first game, and the University of North Carolina, potentially, in the second game.  North Carolina is one of the most talented teams in the country, and they would be playing what is basically a home game.

It was a tough draw, but it will be incredibly exciting to watch the Huskies play Georgia, and then, hopefully, North Carolina.  UW vs. UNC would be a marquee game and bring tremendous exposure to the program.  Let's hope it happens.  Go Huskies!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

2011 NCAA Tournament Prediction Contest

The prize is a $20 gift certificate to Vic's Pizzeria.

You can download and print a bracket here.

Brackets are due to Mr. Gacek by Tuesday at 2:35 p.m.


Round #1: Play-in Round: Choose the winner of the 4 play-in games by circling the winner of each game.  Each winner is worth 1 point.  The winners of the Round #1 games move on to Round #2.  The play-in round was created by the NCAA to try to eke out a few more television dollars.  The NCAA does not care about the perfect symmetry of the 64-team bracket.

Round #2:  Choose the winner of each game by moving the winner of each game to the next line in the bracket.  The number of points you earn for each game is determined by the seed of the winner.  If you choose a #1 seed, you earn 1 point if they win.  If you choose a #12 seed, you earn 12 points if they win.

Round #3: Scored exactly the same as Round #2.

Round #4: Sweet 16:  In Round #4 you earn 8 points for each winner you predict correctly for teams seeded 1 through 8.  If you pick teams seeded #9 or higher to win in Round #4, you earn the number of points equal to that team's seed.

Round #5: Elite 8: Same scoring as Round #4.

Round #6: Final 4: You earn 16 points for each team you pick correctly to win in this round.

Round #7: National Championship: You earn 16 points for choosing the National Champion.

FiveThirtyEight Forecast
Pomeroy Rankings

Geo Quiz #32: South America Countries

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela, French Guiana.

Isaiah Thomas is Amazing

Photo: Los Angeles Times
This has been very much an up and down year for the Washington Huskies.  Expectations for the year were high.  They were expected to be a top-15 team and win the Pac-10 regular season.  Those things didn't end up happening.

The Huskies looked great in the early part of the season against lesser opponents.  They played their best game of the season against Virginia in Maui.  They then lost close games against Kentucky and Michigan State, both top 10 teams at the time.  They later lost by one point at Texas A & M.

They were inconsistent in Pac-10 games.  They ended up in 3rd place.  They beat UCLA twice and split with Arizona.  However, they lost to WSU twice and lost at Oregon, Oregon State, and Stanford.  They also lost their starting point guard, Abdul Gaddy, to a knee injury.

Photo: Dean Rutz/Seattle Times
 In the middle of all this, they had a player, Venoy Overton, being investigated by the police.  He was charged with a gross misdemeanor days before the Pac-10 Tournament.  Coach Romar suspended him for the Pac-10 Tournament.

The losses of Gaddy and Overton meant that Washington had only one point guard on the roster for the Pac-10 Tournament.  They would need Isaiah Thomas to carry the team.  Thomas played all but two minutes of the Huskies' tournament run.

Thomas played his best basketball of the year in the tournament.  He was sensational in the first game against Washington State.  WSU's Klay Thompson scored a tournament-record 43 points.  But Isaiah had 21 points and 11 rebounds and seemed to will the Huskies to the win.  Washington won by two.

Washington led pretty much the entire second game against Oregon.  The Ducks made a comeback in the second half, though Washington pulled way at the end.  UW won by 18.  Thomas had 10 points and 12 assists. 

The Huskies faced Arizona in the championship game.  Arizona won the regualr season and had the league's best player, Derrick Williams.  The game was close throughout.  In the final minute, Arizona went up by 4 with 22 seconds left.  However, freshman Terrence Ross hit a three-pointer with 19 seconds left to pull Washington within 1.  With 14 seconds left, Lamont "Momo" Jones was fouled; he hit his two free throws.  Washington trailed by 3.  Isaiah brought the ball up the court.  He passed the ball to C.J. Wilcox in the corner, and Wilcox drained it to tie the game.  Overtime.

The overtime was again close.  With 21 seconds left the game was tied.  Isaiah again brought the ball up court.  He let the time wind down.  With seconds left he made his move, fired up a fade away, contested shot...and connected.  The buzzer sounded as the ball went through the net.  Huskies win!

28 points, 7 assists for Thomas.  After being mobbed by his teammates, he lay down on the floor, exhausted.  He had a remarkable game, a remarkable tournament.  He is 5'7".  Doesn't matter.  He can play basketball.

And so the Washington Huskies proceed to the NCAA Tournament.  There's no reason they can't win a few games there.  You just never know. 

Monday, March 7, 2011


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
You will write a short piece of fiction, so short it can be considered “microfiction.” Within your piece of microfiction, you must include, at minimum, the following:

3 action verbs
3 linking verbs
3 helping verbs
1 talking animal
1 “Sherlock Holmes-style” deduction
1 dessert
1 question mark

These assignments must be typed. You will turn in two copies of this assignment. The first copy should be printed out normally. On the second copy, underline all of the required elements in orange colored pencil.

Due Friday, March 11.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fantasy World Maps I




"Solemn Isles"