Rule Number One: Read The Rule of Three!

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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.



Six Word Memoirs – A New Year with Eighth Graders

Blossom outside of your comfort zone.

We’ve shared a mere week together, and yet I couldn’t be more thrilled to spend the next 175 school days with these extraordinary young people…fresh-from-summer eighth graders who  unanimously–and vocally–lamented their return to school.  School is boring, they jeered. Mmmm.  It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?

When we’re going to school, neck deep in as many social crises as homework assignments, we think school stinks.  That changes, of course, when we reach the end of our academic pursuits. Then, it’s work day in and day out. Summer breaks become extinct as T-Rexes. Snow days are a frosty memory.  And BFFs…they scatter across the continent like dandelion seeds lost in the wind. That’s when we realize how school was not only pretty great, but it shaped our future selves.

Right now, as we sail into another jam-packed year, I’ll keep the crystal ball tucked away in my teacher wardrobe. Instead, I’ll focus on treasuring these first few relationship-building weeks.  I hope my students see how much they matter to me–and to one another. I hope we’ll find this classroom a place to let go of fears and courageously step beyond what is comfortable and known. I hope we’ll grow into a thriving community of learners who have each other’s backs, who listen with both ears and hearts, and who choose to notice the goodness, no, the greatness, in every classmate. School is life..and I sure as heck don’t want to ever say I lived–or taught–a boring life.

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So, let the sharing begin today with six-word memoirs/teen...six carefully chosen words that tell a personal story. Here is a sampling of the wisdom, humor, and ingenuity that’s currently taking up residence in room A6.  Nothing boring about these young writers!

Can we just use more words? – Jack

Live your life. No one else’s. – Tyler

I write to escape my reality. – Prenya

The stars will be my guide. – Kaitlyn

Don’t be ordinary. Be extraordinary. – Ann Marie

Always believe in what you do. – Matt

One deed will take you far. – Jacob

Open the doors to your life. – Naeem

My dog is smarter than me. – Michaela

Dancing makes me feel more alive – Kylie

Better looking version of my brother. – Makai

If I’m weird, you’re too normal – Ashley

You will remember me working hard. – Sean

Life isn’t fair, but it’s okay. – Destiny

I’m Gucci down to my socks. – Nick

Don’t be a pretzel. It’s twisted. – Lauren

Hiding behind a book, just watching. – Maddie

Tennis and robotics are my life. – Siddhant

Take it slow; don’t grow up. – Aidan

I dance to tell my story. – Daniella

Our world is changing. What’s next? – Pranav

I am not a morning person. – Malak

Watch me. I make mistakes too. – Kasie