Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1984 Prompt Due 12/19/08

In Orwell's 1984, would you rather be a prole or a Party member? Defend your choice and cite reasons from the text.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

1984 Chapters 5-7

If you lived in Oceania in 1984 would you rather be Parsons or Syme? Use at least two quotes to support your answer.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kite Runner Chapters 22-23

Why was Amir laughing as Assef was beating him? Why was he thinking about Hassan and the pomegranates? Use quotes to support your answer?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Kite Runner Chapters 18-21

Discuss Amir's dream on pages 239-240. Why does Amir see himself as "the man in the herringbone vest?"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kite Runner Chapters 14-17

We've talked a bit about whether or not Amir has shown growth. Based on this reading (chapters 14-17), comment on Amir's growth (or lack thereof). You must use at least one quote to support your arguement.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kite Runner Prompt Chapters 11-13

Again, this prompt is homework for my English class, but anyone may comment. “I cringed a little at the position of power that I’d been granted, and all because I had won at the genetic lottery that had determined my sex” (148-149).What does this quote tell you about Amir? Is he showing growth? Also refer to pages 178-180. What does Amir realize about why he is okay with Soraya's past? Use specific quotes and examples to support your response.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kite Runner

While this post is specifically for my English class, all are welcome to respond. What is your opinion of Amir? Substantiate with examples and quotes from the reading.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns

My English class is starting to read Kite Runner so I will not talk about that book now, instead, I will talk about Khaled Hosseini's more recent book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. This novel covers three decades of life in Afghanistan through the eyes of Mariam and Laila. Brought together through their marriages to Rasheed, a cruel and brutal older man, they eventually become friends and allies. In a country where women have no rights and are completely dependent on their fathers and husbands, where beatings are common and acceptable, these women still find ways to persevere. Hosseini gives the reader an understanding of the hardships and abuse suffered by Afghan women through the day to day lives of Mariam and Laila. That they carry on and even dare to hope for a better future is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. I highly recommend this book. Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Saga Complete

Breaking Dawn, the final book in the Twilight Saga, was released on August 2nd, and I bought my copy shortly thereafter. I've talked to some fans who were less thrilled with it than I am and though I understand some of their feelings, I also have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I won't go into detail for those of you who have yet to read it and I know there are many of you out there based on the number of you who have been by asking for the first book, as well as those that I have seen walking around with their own copies. However, if you care to comment in detail, please begin with "spoiler alert" so that those who haven't yet read all the books are forewarned.

Yes, the library does have a complete set of the Twilight books although they are not all currently on the shelves. Last spring the library's copy of Twilight was stolen so the set was incomplete. I bought a new copy of Twilight this weekend and hadn't even finished processing it when someone came by and asked if it was available. I quickly slapped a barcode on it and sent it on its way. It's great to see kids so excited about a book series again. It's not to the level of Harry Potter but it's the closest thing I've seen in a while.

For those who haven't heard much about the books and want to know more, visit Stephanie Meyer's website at The movie is scheduled for release in November and I always recommend reading the book first, so check it out.

For those of you who have read Breaking Dawn, what did you think? Were you satisfied with the ending? Without giving anything away, I have to say, I never saw the resolution with Jacob coming the way it did, but it works for me. It all works for me. What do you think?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to school and to my blog. I expected to write about a few of the books I read over the summer, and I will do that, but today I'm blogging about my new and unexpected foray into English teaching. I am still running the show here in the library but I am also teaching one senior English class and so far I am really enjoying it. It's been ten years since I've been a classroom teacher and there have been plenty of changes in that time. The biggest change is the block schedule. Granted, I have lived in some form of a block schedule for the past nine years, but never as a classroom teacher. It may be a little premature, but so far I am really enjoying this format. I like the 90 minute classes and I even ran out of time today and will have to finish an activity on Wednesday. As an English teacher, I like the "every other day" format because it gives students more time to read, digest, and review whatever it is we are reading. It also gives me a little breathing room for correcting. I like that students have a little more flexibility with time management and homework. It is also good preparation for college as most classes are longer and traditionally do not meet every day. It takes some planning on the part of the teacher to vary the activities within the block but it also gives the teacher some flexibility to do more. Today's biggest challenge was the bell schedule. My class was during the lunch block and we had second lunch. I was surprised when lunch arrived so quickly. Trying to discuss a book with the lunch bells going off was also a challenge. They are irritating enough in the library but when they interrupt someone speaking it's down right maddening. I realize it is a fact of high school life and I will adjust but I think it will take a little time. What do you think of the block schedule? How do you feel about G-Block?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer Sign-Off

This will be my last post for the school year and I will keep it brief. I just want to remind everyone to read, read, read over the summer. Of course you will have to read your summer reading selections, but summer is also a great time to read whatever you'd like. If you haven't already done so, you might want to read The Twilight Saga books by Stephanie Meyer (see my last post). I've read the first three and look forward to Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final installment due in bookstores on August 2. I'm not sure what it is about these books that have me so hooked. Thanks, Cindy, for giving me the push I needed to start. They were always on my "to read" list but I kept finding other things to read instead. I'm not sure what else I will read but a few on my list include The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, The Fifth Vial by Michael Palmer and Crisis by Robin Cook. What are you planning to read? If you read something you love over the summer, let me know. I have plans for a "Norton High School Recommends..." bulletin board. Thanks, and happy summer!

Friday, May 23, 2008


Okay, I'll admit it, I'm hooked. I just finished reading Stephanie Meyer's Twilight and can't wait to read the next in the series. It's been on my list of things to read for a while now but I just hadn't gotten around to it. Though it received great reviews, is wildly popular, and is soon to be a major motion picture, I don't typically get excited about vampire books. This one, however, is very different. Bella Swann decides to go and live with her dad in the tiny town of Forks, Washington, where everyone knows everyone and it's always raining. She becomes interested in a Edward Cullen, her exceptionally handsom but rather distant lab partner. The attraction is mutual and she eventaully learns that he and his family are vampires, though not at all like the vampires of legend. Though Edward and his family have vowed not to hunt humans, most others of their kind have not and Bella's relationship with Edward puts her in mortal danger. My brief description can't do the story justice so check it out for yourself! If you have read it (and the others) what did you think?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An Update on What Sean's Reading

A few posts ago I appealled to you for reading suggestions for my 11 year old son Sean who was having severe Harry Potter withdrawal. You responded with some great suggestions so I took a few things from the shelves here and brought them home. Around the same time his 5th grade teacher gave him The Lightening Thief by Rick Riorden and he was instantly hooked. Percy Jackson, whom the reader meets at a boarding school for troubled youth, discovers that he is the son of Greek god Poseidon and a mortal mother. He soon becomes involved in the escapades of the Greek gods and meets other half-mortals like himself. As part of a new and original story the reader also learns a great deal about Greek mythology and its cast of many characters. The Lightening Thief is the first in the series and the fourth book, The Battle of the Labyrinth, has just arrived in bookstores (and at my house). Mr. Duff just informed me that The Lightening Thief will be one of the middle school summer reading selections for social studies this year. It definitely gets a thumbs up from Sean. I hope to read the series myself soon, if not now then definitely over the summer. If you're looking for something fun to read over the summer you might want to check them out, too.

For those who made recommendations, I'm sure he will get there. He did read Eragon and Eldest (recommended by Michelle Le and her brother) while waiting for The Battle of the Labyrinth to be released and loved those, too. I also plan to get him the Artemis Fowl series (recommended by C.J. and others), and soon, as he is burning through his current book. I also plan to pick up Son of the Mob as he is a Gordon Korman fan. Thanks again for your suggestions.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Izzy and Lola

Meet the newest editions to the Young family. Isabelle (Izzy) and Lola, English bulldog puppies, joined us at the beginning of April. We lost Emily, our 14 year old bulldog, just before Christmas, which was very hard on all of us. Our kids came after Emily so they never knew life without her. We just couldn't get used to coming home to an empty house so we decided to get another dog. Well, one dog turned into two, as we are all gone during the day and thought that two would keep eachother company. At her age, Emily was content to sleep during the day but puppies have quite a bit more energy than geriatric dogs. The two dog plan has proven to be a great one as they really do entertain each other. We had Izzy for a week before Lola came home and I didn't get much sleep that week. The day Lola joined us, everyone, including the puppies, slept through the night and have been doing so ever since. Puppies are quite a bit more lively and demanding than Emily had been in a long time so it's been a bit of an adjustment but it's all been worth it. They are a lot of fun. Izzy is definitely the boss and a bit of a primadonna while Lola is sweet and a bit less independent. Every kid in the neighborhood (and many adults) regularly stop by to play with the girls so they are a bit spoiled, but that's okay. It's great to come home to the enthusiastic welcome of a dog(s) again.

Dog lovers should check out Marley and Me, by John Grogan (soon to be a movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson) which chronicles the life and adventures of Marley the yellow lab and his family. Anyone who's had a dog can relate. Unfortunately, we don't have a copy here in the library but it's well worth seeking elsewhere. Any dog lovers out there??

Monday, April 28, 2008

Robert Ludlum

I recently read The Bancroft Strategy, the most recent book by one of my favorite authors, Robert Ludlum. This wouldn't be at all unusual except that Mr. Ludlum has been dead since 2001 so it seems strange that he is still publishing new material. Interestingly, Mr. Ludlum (with a few co-writers) has been quite prolific since his death (check out this New York Times article on how this is possible This particular book does not credit another author but was completed (by someone who did not wish to be acknowledged) from an unpolished manuscript written by Mr. Ludlum before his death, and unlike some of the works published since his death, this one stays true to his original conspiracy driven style.

Todd Belknap, a Cons-Op agent whom handlers believe has turned rogue, sets out to rescue his partner and friend who has been kidnapped by militia in Lebanon. Andrea Bancroft, a banker from Connecticut, has inherited 12 million dollars and a seat on the board of her estranged family's prestigious charitable Bancroft Foundation. After spending some time with Paul Bancroft, the foundation's leader, Andrea suspects that there is a sinister layer to the apparent philanthropy of the foundation. Todd and Andrea's paths cross and they become reluctant partners in the search for Todd's partner, the truth about the Bancroft Foundation, and the identity of the mysterious Genesis, who seems to be involved in both. True to Ludlum style, even when questions are answered and problems resolved, there is never really a happy ending and always room for a sequel.

I'll be donating my copy of the Bancroft Strategy to the Norton High School Library when my husband finishes it. In the meantime, if you want to read some pre-death Ludlum, check out the Bourne Trilogy but don't be surprised by how little they resemble the Matt Damon movies. Huge liberties were taken there.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Prom, Accomplished

This year's junior/senior prom was held at Lombardo's in Randolph on Saturday night, and I think it's safe to say that a good time was had by all. We had a terrific turnout, over 300 students attended. THe venue was very nice and the weather was really on our side. Rain was predicted for the whole day but it turned out sunny and beautiful, perfect for those outdoor pictures that the parents just love to take. I'd like to thank the prom committee for all of their work and harmonious decision making. I have never worked with a group of girls that could come to decisions so quickly and agreeably. Well done! I'd also like to thank my fellow advisors, Miss Hall and Mrs. Gibson, and our other chaperones, including Mr. Brassard, Ms. Beisheim, Mr. Rogers, Ms. Bukowski, Mr. McCoy, Mr. Greene, Mr. Grasso, Mr. Dewar, Mr. Barth, and school committee member Mr. O'Neil who stayed all night. Most of all, I would like to thank each and every student who attended the prom. You all looked fabulous and your behavior was commendable. The staff complimented me on what wonderful and well-behaved students you were and I agree. Thanks again for all of your cooperation and I hope you truly had a wonderful time.

Friday, March 28, 2008

What to Read Next???

I'm looking for help from those of you who were eleven years old a little more recently than me. My 5th grade son recently blew through the entire Harry Potter series and is having trouble finding somthing else to read because nothing else quite measures up. Other things he's enjoyed previously include The Falconers series by Gorden Korman and Hatchet by Gary Paulson (but he couldn't seem to get into the other Brian books). I have a few suggestions for him but I'd like to hear from some of you. Having spent the last 14 years in high school, I haven't read as many middle school books as I'd like. What were some of your favorite middle school books? Keep in mind that he is in fifth grade and his reading level is more mature than his interest level. Thanks in advance for any help you can give!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Have you noticed that some of your teachers are looking a little slimmer these days? Thirty-two staff members are participating in our own version of The Biggest Loser in which teams of four compete against each other for the highest average percentage of weight loss. Talk about "healthy competition." Losers weigh in with Mrs. Browne in the nurses office on Fridays and the week's results are posted on Monday. The contest started right after February vacation and will end the day before April vacation for a total of 8 weeks. From everything I've read (and I've read plenty), I should be able to lose two pounds per week, but unfortunately, I'm not quite there. At the halfway point I had lost only six and a half pounds but I'm not giving up. My team has been in the top three since week one and we're not giving up.

If you're interested in reading up on slimming down (or eating better or getting fit), check out some of the materials that the Norton High School Library has to offer. We subscribe to Fitness, Health, Prevention, and Cooking Light magazines. We also have a great selection of books on fitness, healthy eating, and the dangers of obesity. Some titles include, Yoga for Teens, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Weightloss, Fast Food Nation, Supersize Me, Lighten Up: Stay Sane, Eat Great, Lose Weight, and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Living, to name just a few. Check them out!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Always Bring a Good Book

I know I've addressed this before but I can't stress it enough. Always keep a book with you to pass the time while you are waiting for something. Last week our family drove to Florida so we spent a considerable amount of time in the car together. Yes, we have a DVD player and the kids also brought their PSPs, but what kept us most entertained during the long hours was reading Harry Potter together. My 11 year old brought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with him to read while we were away. He read book three first and decided to go back and read the first two. I thought it might be fun to read it aloud but I had no idea what a hit it would be. I read the entire book during the trip down and my kids were rapt for the entire story. They didn't even want me to stop long enough for a sip of water. Of cours, this left Sean with nothing to read on his own. We eventually found a Walmart and purchased books two and four. I read all of book two to them on the way home and Sean also finished book 4 by the time we arrived in Massachusetts. Yes, they also watched a few movies and played video games but the best time spent in the car was spent reading together.

I am a huge Harry Potter fan and though I rarely reread books myself, it was great to revisit these books. If you haven read Harry, I highly recommend them all.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

NHS Students are Reading More! What are You Reading?

Perhaps due to SRR or perhaps due to my blog (less likely, but one can hope), students are reading more at Norton High School! How do I know this? I took a look at the circulation statistics from September through January of 06-07 and the same months in 07-08 and discovered that 171 more books circulated this year than last year. That's a substantial difference under ordinary circumstances but since I see fewer of you each day due to the elimination of studies, I think it's monumental! It seems that when students are given time to read for pleasure they remember that they do actually enjoy it! Teens are so busy with school, extra-curricululars, and work that they just can't fit it all in and reading for pleasure is often one of the first things to go. SSR is giving this back and it is being embraced by many of you.

So what are you reading right now? I know this might not be the best time for this question as I hope you're all reading It's Not About the Bike, but what else are you reading, or what have you read recently that you would recommend to others? I am reading Son of a Witch. I was a huge fan of Wicked (I know, not everyone agrees) and I'm enjoying the sequel. I'm taking my time because I really don't want it to end. Let's hear what you're reading.

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Books!!

Due to budget constraints I was not given any money at all for new books at the end of last year so I had nothing new when we returned to school in Septmember. I expected that this would be the case all year so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was given a budget in late fall. Though I received much less than usual, I was able to order some great new books, some of which arrived this week. I am working on processing these books so that they can circulate and I have rushed a few through because students and teachers were already asking to check them out, but the majority are still being processed at the circulation desk. Come by to see what's new and let me know if there are any titles you'd like to see added to the collection. I don't know when I'll have money again but I'll put them on the list.

Monday, January 07, 2008


I just finished Next, by Michael Crichton. I always enjoy his books and learn something from them, and this was no exception. In this book, Crichton takes a look at the many possible legal, ethical, and scientific ramifications of the completed Human Genome Project. Some of the issues raised include the dilemas associated with universities and companies owning patents to genes, ownership of human tissue, genetic testing as a basis for denying heath insurance and influencing custody cases, and advertising in nature using genetic manipulation. The novel is fast paced with extremely short chapters that bounce between many characters and subplots - some connected and others not. The main story involves Rick Diehl's start-up biotech firm, BioGen, and it's recently acquired license for the Burnett cancer fighting cell line, Jack Watson, his ruthless, manipulative financial backer, Frank Burnett, the man whose cells were sold to BioGen without his knowledge or consent, and his attorney daughter, Alex. In addition to these characters we also meet Dr. Robert Bellarmino, self promoting lead researcher at NIH, researcher Henry Kendall and his transgenic humanzee son, Dave, Josh Winkler and Tom Weller of BioGen, a pair of bounty hunters, and a host of others. Comic relief is provided by a transgenic parrot named Gerard, a bilingual orangutan in the Sumatran jungle, and a host of press releases about the impending extinction of blonds. With about 100 pages to go I found myself wondering how it was all going to come together and be resolved by the end. As it turns out, much is left for the reader to imagine, though we can assume a great deal of litigation will be involved. As for the main characters, we do get some resolution, and some poetic justice. Though not one of his most well written novels (some characters are introduced only briefly then never mentioned again, simply to introduce another possible result of genetic testing) I still enjoyed it and recommend it. Next is available here at the Norton High School Library.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

One Book, One School

As you know, this year's One Book, One School selection is Lance Armstrong's It's Not About the Bike. Armstrong's story is both inspirational and humbling. Obviously his survival and triumph over cancer is an amazing story but I found the parts about training and racing to be particularly intersting. I have done a few triathlons (sprint distance, although there was no sprinting involved on my part) so I was interested in his training programs (just in reading about them, not attempting them). I had no idea that he started with triathlons. I really only knew his post cancer story before reading the book. I currently have one copy in the library but it is checked out. Mr. Barth will be donating several more copies to the library (thanks Mr. Barth!) and I will let you know when they become available, however, I don't recommend waiting. Check out Amazon or eBay for used copies at great prices. In the meantime, check out these links to some clever Lance Armstrong Nike commercials (sent to me by Mr. Brassard, an avid cyclist). I think the ESPN one is my favorite.