Meet My Bloggers

Cross platform applicationsCreative Commons License Tsahi Levent-Levi via Compfight

This is my second year sponsoring a blog club here at Eagle Ridge, but our numbers are dwindling weekly. I need to figure out a way to make blogging more exciting–maybe I should give away five dollar bills. Candy and Top 40 tunes alone aren’t cutting it. Ideas, bloggers of the world?

Right now, we’re participating in Edublogs’ Student Blogging Challenge…six successive weeks of challenges that educate and inspire us to be responsible, inventive bloggers.

What our club is missing in quantity is certainly made up for by the quality of the students with whom I’m lucky enough to share my Wednesdays.

Meet Tiki.

One of my talented seventh-grade bloggers, Tiki loves hibachi food and sleep. Connect with her at talkingwithtikitorch.edublogs.org

 

Meet Sid.

Once you’ve stopped by Talking with Tiki Torch, drop in and visit Sid at Sid’s Database. Sid is currently creating an interactive personality quiz so watch for that on his blog shortly. You don’t want to miss out on Sid’s blogging excellence.

Sid

I’ll share more Eagle Ridge bloggers next time! Until then, believe anything is possible when you believe in yourself.

Eat candy and enjoy life,

Mrs. Rombach

Thirteen Things You Probably Wouldn’t Know About Mrs. Rombach–Unless You Hired a Private Detective!

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ThIrtEen: When my entire family traveled to Ireland and, one by one, took their lives into their hands to buss the Blarney Stone, I refused to risk life and limb to kiss a gray stone swimming with germs. I regret that decision now, but, at the time, my all-consuming fear of heights ripped all remnants of courage from my shaky limbs.

TwELvE: Brilliantly, I broke my arm running down a rain-soaked slide at Newport News park. My younger brother laughed hysterically as I pushed myself up, screaming wildly as my S-shaped right arm hung limply at my side. I have held that against him for a lifetime. He owes me pounds of Twizzlers as repayment–and I haven’t even gotten one red rope.

eLEveN: When I was twelve, my Mom let me paint and wallpaper my own room. I was orange crazy at the time, so my curtains were orange, I had giant orange poppies wallpaper on one wall, and three of my four walls were, you guessed it, orange.

tEn: I might have been a certified tadpole farmer, had there been such a profession when I was a preteen. Where I grew up, ditches lined every neighborhood road. During springtime, I was harvesting tadpoles from the swollen ditches, and transferring them to a litter box turned tadpole resort. There’s nothing quite like watching legs sprout from a black dot. The magical transformation transfixed me–as I witnessed hundreds of tadpoles jump out into the world as teeny frogs.

NiNe: Before there was Katniss, there was Mrs. Rombach, a 12-year-old national archery champion. If I can find the newspaper article, I’ll post it to prove my prowess with a bow and arrow (The aforementioned arm break, by the way, occurred after a weekend practice and officially ended my archery career.).

EiGHt: One Halloween–I don’t remember which year–there was a pumpkin shortage, and our family waited a few days too late to purchase our orange porch sitter. Instead, my older brother, Tom, designed an uber cool pulley system that dropped a white-sheet ghost on the unknowing victims who dared to climb our front porch steps. The ghost was out of commission early in its haunting career–a jammed pulley, if I recall correctly–but the memory sticks with me. My older brother, who would rather have been making mischief with his teenage posse, saved the day–or at least our Halloween night.

SeVEn: At sixteen, I served as a friendly, front-end cashier at Squire’s Galley restaurant in the England section of Busch Gardens-Williamsburg. Yes, I smelled like hamburgers and french fries all day–and all summer long.

SIx: For possibly eight consecutive Halloweens, my witchy green face, smeared with Dad’s thick, hunting camouflage paint, cackled across the neighborhood. From my wickedly black hat to my flowing, Mom-crafted robe, I was 100% Dorothy’s nemesis. Each night, after collecting our Halloween loot, my brother and I dumped our bounty on the living room floor and spent an hour trading candies. I loved bartering for Baby Ruths and Butterfingers, my chocolate dream team.

fIVe: I am the proud, adoring mom to five fabulous kids (Don’t I sound like a mom?) who are now ages 14, 17, 19, 21, and 23. They make my life complete.

FOuR: Minions make me HAPPY. They’re all over my classroom. Last Christmas, I tried (unsuccessfully) to convince my husband to order me a full-size minion costume–the kind a college mascot would wear. My children joined forces with my hubby to boycott the purchase–at least for this year. Muhaha!

tHReE: Before my career in the publishing industry, I dreamed of dancing on Broadway. I never took one dance lesson, so this dream was never a possibility. That said, I definitely believed in the impossible when I danced in front of a full-length mirror at home, breaking into some Tony award-winning moves while the BeeGees blasted from my record player. Did I mention I can’t sing either? It’s important to have dreams–even if they stay only dreams.

twO: My favorite number is two. I’m not sure why and when I picked the number two, but I’m a Libra. Maybe it’s because I like balance.

ONe: I’ve dated–or been married to–my number one husband, Mike, for a total of three decades. I’ve spent more time with him than without him–and for that, I consider myself extraordinarily lucky. He’s a cool guy to hike with, sip coffee with, or to ramble down some unfamiliar road with in a top-down, Minion yellow Jeep!

As the sponsor of the Eagle Ridge Blog Club, I’m happy to post this year’s All About Me. What’s one thing I should know about you?

Mrs. Rombach http://mrsrombachreads.edublogs.org

Rule Number One: Read The Rule of Three!

photo credit: Amazon.com

photo credit: Amazon.com

four-stars_0Before reading The Rule of Three, I didn’t have one Eric Walters YA novel on my sixth grade bookshelf. Shame on me! After gulping down the 405 pages of this high velocity book, I’m ready for a refill. Here’s why: Eric Walters knows his audience well. He understands the challenges we middle and high school teachers sometimes have convincing a student to read, much less finding a book that will hold a young man’s attention past the first three chapters. Rest assured, dear teachers, there will be no abandoning The Rule of Three.

Sixteen-year-old Adam Daley is going about a typical high school day–eyeing a pretty girl, ribbing his best friend Todd, and trying to get a little classwork done. Without warning, a catastrophic power outage turns their world dark. Not only is electricity lost, but everything from cell phones to modern-day cars are rendered useless. Everything comes to a standstill in Adam’s hometown, and–as they eventually discover–across the globe.

Humans can survive three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. Author Walters nimbly goes to work decimating creature comforts. Within hours, looting begins. Within days, widespread panic consumes the region. Riots over food and water erupt. Chaos ensues, but Adam, his police chief Mom, and former CIA agent neighbor design a radical plan to protect the people within their hastily constructed barriers.

What if today, in your neck of the world, the electrical grid went dark, computers died, and communication satellites shut down? What if the only operable vehicles were antique automobiles, gas-powered go-carts, and the occasional private airplane? Eric Walters plants the terrifying seed of possibility in the minds of all his young (and not-so-young) readers. How would we as a nation react? Probably not unlike the citizens of Walters’ fictional world.

I highly recommend The Rule of Three for both middle and high school audiences–particularly young males searching for a high-octane adventure in paperback. The book reads like a video game. Yes, there is violence and death, as to be expected when fighting for survival, but its content is not overly graphic or disturbing. I would say other dystopian novels dip a little deeper into the violence well. As of January 2016, Walters delivered a second and third book in this series. Go get ’em: Rule of Three: Fight for Power and Rule of Three: Will to Survive.

 

 

Make a Connection – Shrink the World

credit: presentermedia.com

There are 7.4 billion people in the world, and you only know a handful of them. It’s time to do a little globetrotting and meet some of your student peers around the world. Today, your mission is to leave a quality comment on at least one of these blogs. You choose the destination, but your challenge is to ignite a two-way conversation. Be sure to leave the best comment you can. Read the other student blogger’s All About Me page–or a post that rivets your attention. Deliver complimentary comments. Notice the student’s efforts and creativity. Do you have something in common? Make the connection. Invite the student you visited to come see your blog. Then, ensure they can find you by leaving your blog’s URL. Always end with a question so they want to head your way and continue the conversation. Let’s get started with our commenting crusade!

Stop One: California

The One and Only Ruby (Ruby is in my friend Mr. Jewell’s class, and her blog looks amazing.)

Stop Two: Australia

Jack’s Black Board  (Take special notice of Jack’s post on why there should be more P.E. classes. I’m guessing many of you would agree!)

Liam’s Legit Blog (Like many of us, Liam only has a few blog posts, but you’ll notice how he used bold visuals to capture your attention. Sports fans will enjoy a trip to Liam’s Legit Blog.)

Stop Three: New Zealand

Caro’s Creative Creations (This colorful blog is bubbling over with blogposts. If you’re a high-volume blogger, you’ve found a friend in Caro!)

Stop Four: Spain

Candelia’s Blog  (If you like to answer quirky questions, like “If you were stuck on a desert with only your clothes, how would you entertain yourself?”, this is the stop for you.)

Stop Five: Canada

HankOnline (Hank–not his real name–likes acting, drumming, rock-n-roll, and spy movies. He sound like a pretty hip French Canadian to me!)

Final Stop: Scotland

Baeleigh’s Blog (Explore all of the pages she’s created…recipes, quizzes, photos, and more. Maybe she’ll inspire your own blog additions!)

Weekends were made for blogging.

With all the free time you have this weekend, check out these fun image makers. How might you use of of these tools on your blog? Show me. No, show the world!

  1. Image Generators such as ImageGenerator.org
  2. Comic Generators like MakeBeliefsComix.com,  ToonDoo
  3. Photo Editors like Befunkyfd’s Flickr Tools
  4. Tag Cloud Creators such as Wordle

 

 

Virginia Born and Bred

     While I haven’t lived in Virginia all of my life, the Old Dominion is where I’ve spent most of my life. Raised in Yorktown, Virginia, where the Revolutionary War was won, I’ve traveled all over this great state, but still have more to explore: waterfalls to stand in awe of, mountainous overlooks to hike, winding country roads to traverse, lazy rivers to float, local eateries to share a meal, and friendly folks to meet all along the way.

     Our state tourism board has it right: Virginia is for lovers…of the outdoors, history, adventure, sports, music and craft festivals, pastoral rural landscapes and bustling city centers. Plus, we enjoy the beauty of all four seasons!

     Earlier today, my husband asked me where I see myself in 10 or 15 years. Only one place…Virginia!  I love teaching middle school students on the weekdays and taking my Jeep out for a spontaneous “just because” backroads tour on weekends. Today, I’m sharing an Animoto video I created with a few Virginia highlights. Okay, my favorite sixth graders, I challenge you to add an Animoto video to YOUR blog! 🙂

 

 

Our Student Blogs are Open for Visitors…Come On Over!

After giving another blogging platform a go earlier in the year, I’m back to Edublogs. I love Edublogs, and the autonomy that it provides my students delivers a learning experience unparalleled by other blogging formats. So, I’ve reunited with my one love–and set up  blogs for over 70 students  who are eager  to connect with  their peers around the globe. We just started our last quarter of the school year, but when it comes to blogging, my students are pumped up and ready for action.

I’ve asked my students to post a link to their blogs below. If you stop by for a visit, please stay long enough to visit a blog or two and leave a comment. In addition, you’ll find links to their blogs in the right sidebar. For most of my students, you’ll be the first comment they ever receive. Thanks so much for leaving a note of encouragement for any one of my amazing students.

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel: Worth Buzzing About!

 

photo credit: http://animaliaz-life.com

photo credit: Amazon.com

Springtime is wasp time. I don’t know about your house, but a day doesn’t go by that my kids aren’t hollering, “Mom, there’s a wasp in the house.” Thanks to Kenneth Oppel’s The Nest, I have an entirely new, somewhat menacing, perspective on  these ubiquitous flying insects. My GoodReads review on this  phenomenally engaging book follows.

The obsessive compulsive handwashing has started up again. Steve’s baby brother has arrived, and something’s just not right. While his parents aren’t elaborating on the baby boy’s heart trouble, Steve knows one thing for certain: his once-attentive parents are exhausted from sleepless nights and countless hospital visits. Hushed voices whisper behind closed doors, and Steve feels his normal existence crumbling apart.

After allergic-to-everything Steve is stung by a wasp, the dreams of a black-eyed angel begin. The gossamer-winged creature promises to “fix” everything, and normally nervous Steve is mesmerized by the angel’s rhythmic voice. Every night, the angel appears, at first soothing Steve’s fears. Then, fueling them by feeding into the young boy’s deepest fears. What if the angels could replace Steve’s critically ill baby brother with a perfect model? One little three-letter word is all it takes to unleash a horrific chain of events: y-e-s.

Even though Steve realizes it isn’t an angel that visits his dreams, but rather a wasp queen, he gives into the temptation. Soon, a wasp nest is abuzz outside of his bedroom window. It isn’t long before Steve begins to see a baby forming inside the nest. When the wasps are done, all Steve must do is open his window and let the angels replace his damaged brother (who Oppel brilliantly leaves nameless for most of the book) with a flawless copy, carefully crafted by thousands of yellow-striped workers.

I couldn’t put this thriller of a little book down. The Nest stings the soul. It got me thinking about the potential repercussions and moral tightrope of genetic engineering. In fact, months later, The Nest is still buzzing around my brain. Toss in a little sister whose plastic toy phone receives incoming calls, and a knife sharpening salesman that shows up at only one house on the street: Steve’s, and you’ve got mega middle school creepiness. I so loved this book that I put two hardcovers in my classroom library. After I showed the publisher’s book trailer to my class, a swarm of students raided both my class library and the school library (We need more copies both places!).

The best endorsement: Owen, one of my first student readers, said he couldn’t put down the book. In fact, for the first time ever, his mom actually yelled at him to stop reading and go to sleep. For any author, there’s no greater compliment than a 12-year-old boy who willingly gets scolded just to keep turning pages. 🙂  Fly out and pick up a copy!

The Great Mail Race

The Great Mail Race

Hello, blog. I missed you!

Wouldn’t you know it takes snail mail to get me back to posting on my much-missed blog!

A few weeks ago, our school received two letters from middle school participants in The Great Mail Race: Fruit Cove Middle School in Florida, and Godwin Heights Middle School in Michigan. Thank you to Vivian and Arnav whose letters landed in my teacher mailbox.

What is the Great Mail Race? An engaging way to have your students write authentic friendly letters to peers around these great United States. Students choose to type or hand write a letter to a class in another state. Easy-to-follow guidelines are posted on the website, as well as lists of teachers and students who are craving mail.

In our classroom, we’ve opted for the element of surprise. Students identified the middle schools to which they’d write by searching “state name + middle school” on Google. Some wanted specific towns or cities, like “San Diego, CA middle schools” or “Salt Lake City, Utah middle schools.” Digging up middle schools was a breeze. Navigating the school websites and locating an English or Social Studies teacher to whom the student could write required slightly more investigation. Still, my awesome sixth graders figured it out and got busy writing their letters of introduction.

I’m really excited that this writing project landed in my mailbox. The students researched the schools, and went to work drafting letters that showcased our school,  our state, as well as their individual interests. Next week, we’ll print out the letters from Google Docs, tuck them in envelopes, and use our best sixth grade handwriting to pen the addresses. Then, we’ll wait (impatiently, of course) for our shipments to come in.

I’ll report back on our responses, too, when they begin trickling in.

Boy, it’s nice to be back in the blogosphere. 🙂

Mrs. Rombach

 

 

Spooky Creatures in the Classroom

Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the classroom, the Play-Doh monsters arrived.

On the day before Halloween, outfitted with an Amazon-delivered box of 32 plastic jars of Play-Doh, I launched a hands-on creature creation lab that kept my sixth graders busy for half the class period. First, they came forward and collected their individual 3 ounce jars, and then they got busy molding their Play-Doh creatures–all of which were based on our previous day of monster-sized brainstorming. They got 15 minutes for this artistic endeavor.

While spooky music set the scene, the kids chattered and crafted outlandish creatures–some spine-tingling monsters and others cuddly critters that you’d take home to Mom and Dad. What I loved most was watching a roomful of inspired young authors put their pencils to paper and have to be told to stop. You read that right…told to stop. Many students wrote 2-3 pages and complained loudly when I called time so we could share out our stories. Better still, many returned this week to report that they’d finished their spooky tales.

Will this creature feature become a perennial event in my classroom? You betcha. Give it a ghost of a chance in your classroom, too. You’ll be amazed at the spirited writing that results.

 

The Thing About Jellyfish – New Book!

“I’ve written about astrophysicists and athletes, cosmologists and Arctic conservators, geologists and psychologists and farmers and awesome children. What I enjoy, above all, is telling a good story.This world of ours is complex, but  it’s filled with plenty of wonder and sparkle.”

– Ali Benjamin

credit: Good Reads

 

Sometimes, I get really lucky and simply stumble on the kind of book I found in The Thing About Jellyfish, the 2015 debut novel from author Ali Benjamin. On one of my many weekly trips to Amazon’s virtual bookshelves, the stunningly beautiful cover of this book populated my screen. I clicked on the image, read the description, and instantly clicked Add to Cart. I finished The Thing About Jellyfish about two weeks ago and it continues to thump  around in my still-in-awe brain like a damp beach towl in the dryer. 

From Goodreads.com:

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy was a rare jellyfish sting. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door. 

 

The Thing About Jellyfish should be on every adult bookshelf, too. Who hasn’t ever hurt or been hurt by a friend, struggled with inexplicable grief, or wanted an impossible happy ending? We’ve all been there, like Suzy and Franny, trying to find our place in this physically and emotionally challenging world.  Plus, there’s real science poured into every delicately moving page.  The Thing About Jellyfish , recently named a National Book finalist, will touch your heart. Below are two videos about the book, one from me, and one from the author. I discovered Kizoa this morning  through Edublogs’ Student Blogging Challenge. I’ve given it a try so I can show my sixth graders  one way they might create a book trailer. See what you think.