November? Already??

Knock knock.
Who's there?
WHAT?? It can't be?? Already!??

I don't know about you, but I feel like October just got here and now it's almost November. I know what you're thinking- things like: It feels like the school year just started! It's almost 2nd quarter and I still have so much to do from 1st quarter! Right around the corner is the season for holiday breaks, vacations, lots of missed school days and cold, snowy weather.
Don't despair! Today's blog will contain some fun activities and ideas to get your November off to a great start. To end October on a fun note, did you know that in addition to being All Hallow's Eve, October 31st is National Knock-Knock Jokes Day? Have you ever met a kid (especially a third grader) that doesn't love a good (& cheesy) knock-knock joke?

Are you looking for a way to get your students interested in a writing assignment? Look no further! Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick Story Contest, for children in grades 2-8, started on October 15 and ends on January 15, 2008. The contest is based on the picture book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, which is one of my favorite books to use for spurring kids into writing quality, interesting fiction. The book contains multiple black and white drawings that have a title and a caption for the unusual situation depicted, so the hard work for a kid of thinking about what to write is already done. The pictures are extraordinarily done and so intriguing that even the most reluctant writer can find a picture to pique their interest. Van Allsburg will also host a live webcast on November 13, 2007, to interact with students about what it's like to be a writer/illustrator and to talk about his work. For more information about the story writing contest and the live webcast, visit The Chris Van Allsburg & Mysteries of Harris Burdick website.

Now this might sound a bit morbid, but, November 2nd is Plan Your Epitaph Day. Interestingly enough, Plan Your Epitaph Day is internationally observed and coincides with the Day of the Dead. Think about the numerous potential curricular connections that epitaphs could offer: writing your own epitaph, pondering how you want to be remembered in the context of behavior and character, important historical figures and their epitaphs- there are limitless applications for your classroom!! Studying the various kinds and historical origins of epitaphs could provide an interesting topic for students to research. Visit Plan Your Epitaph for examples of unforgettable epitaphs and for ideas on how to write your own.

Are you looking for new ways to engage your students in math? Check out Cyberchase on your local PBS station. Cyberchase teaches kids that math is everywhere, everyone can be good at it's fun! The TV show is geared towards children ages 8-12 and the website provides a wealth of math resources for students, parents and teachers. Find out more about Cyberchase at the Cyberchase website.

For those of you that teach or work with preschoolers and younger children, have you checked out Super Why? A research based show on PBS, Super Why! follows 4 friends with super reading powers through Storybook Village. The main characters use their alphabet, spelling, word and reading powers to help solve problems in classic fairy tale settings. As a teacher, I love that each episode is based on classic fairy tales- knowing the plots, problems and characters of fairy tales provides a necessary basis for literary study as students get older. Check out Super Why! at the Super Why! Website for your local air times, fun games and multiple parent/teacher resources.

Well, that's about all for this week. Enjoy the fabulous fall foliage while its still here and embrace the fact that, yes, it's nearly November. I'll leave you with this:
Interesting November 1st facts:
In 1765, the Stamp Act went into effect, prompting stiff resistance from American colonists.
In 1512, Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were first exhibited to the public after 4 1/2 years of work.
November 1st is National Family Literacy Day and National Authors' Day
November 1-7 is National Fig Week (who knew?)

Have a great week!