The Cybils are awesome. There’s no better way to say it. I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved as a panelist for the last few years and it’s non-stop fun. Is it a lot of work? Hell yeah. You will be reading, and reading, and reading, and then reading some more. You will ignore your family and friends because you need to try every book for yourself. You will reread a lot of books to try and see what your fellow panelists might see in it that you missed the first time around.
The conversations you have with your fellow panelists will be enlightening and you will learn so much. It’s a frantic few months, but so worth all of the time and energy you will invest into it. So if you haven’t applied yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. And soon! The deadline is August 31st.
But you be chosen as a judge if you don’t put in your application! So get on it.
Today was all about Karen Sandler’s Tankborn. I was really looking forward to today because there is so much to talk about in Tankborn! Class structure, genetic modification, the definition of human- lots of great conversations to be had!
We started the morning with a discussion of the book itself. The kids talked about their favorite characters, their feelings about the setting, questions they had, etc. It was a productive conversation and they were really enthusiastic. The discussion naturally moved towards the controversy surrounding bioengineering and genetic modification. Exactly as I expected. This gave us the opportunity to watch Paul Root Wolpe’s TED talk: It’s Time to Question Bio-engineering. If you haven’t seen it yet, you must take 20 minutes to listen to Wolpe. He is a bioethicist and his talk will blow your mind! The campers were fascinated by some of the animals and modifications that he shared.
After watching Wolpe’s talk and discussing some of the animals, the kids then designed their own genetically modified animals or plants. After drawing them and coloring them in they presented them to the class and rationalized their place in the world.
The campers were really enthusiastic about bioethics so we too some time to debate a few scenarios presented in the NIH’s Bioethics curriculum guide. Some weird stuff has been designed by scientists! Did you know there are Glofish? Originally developed to help scientists discover pollution in waterways, they are now sold in pet stores like Petsmart and Petco. Their genes have been injected with bioluminescence from coral so the fish are neon colored and glow under black light! We had never heard of Glofish and they caused quite a controversy in the room. Some of my campers wanted to buy them immediately while the others were horrified at the very thought, for moral reasons. It was a great debate!
Before lunch, we read another 30 pages of Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy, which the kids are loving. We took a few minutes to watch a SciFri video presentation about the parrots in Brooklyn, which we all learned a lot from.
After lunch we decided to do our afternoon reading outside. We read for about 40 minutes and it was wonderful!
Then it was time to go back inside and continue our discussion of Tankborn. We watched a few author interview videos from Karen Sandler’s website and then studied the maps of Loka that are available there. I also shared the short story that Karen Sandler has made available on her website. This led to a great conversation about the meaning of the word human and we should define it. I told them about the Declaration of Rights of Cetaceans and we researched the intelligence of whales and dolphins. The idea of giving dolphins and whales “person rights” was very intriguing to my campers. We spent the rest of the afternoon discussing whether or not dolphins and whales deserve to have rights and to have those rights protected.
Tomorrow is our last day! I’m sad to see the week end but I am looking forward to finishing Liar & Spy and spending the day talking about Seurat, acting as spies, and reading! Plus, I have books to give away tomorrow!
Filed under: book camp | Tagged: bioengineering, bioethics, bookworm camp, dolphins, karen sandler, liar & spy, paul root wolpe, productive conversation, rebecca stead, science, tankborn, TED talks | Leave a comment »
Today was the first day of camp! I am thrilled to be running a “camp for bookworms” through my local community college. Last fall I read about Thalia Kid’s Book Club Camp at Symphony Space in New York City. I was immediately overcome with jealous because that camp sounded like my dream as a kid. A place to read books and talk about more books? HEAVEN!
When my local community college campus sent out an email looking for counselors and camp ideas, I decided to throw my idea out there. A camp for bookworms that would be aimed at middle school students. To my surprise, they loved the idea! Then I spent a few months picking three books for the students to read before coming to camp so that we could focus on them during the week of camp. It was very tough, but I finally chose Mike Mullins’ Ashfall, Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs, and Karen Sandler’s Tankborn. My goal was to choose awesome, well-written books that the campers most likely would not have read before.
Today was our first day of camp and it went really well! I have a small group of students, and an even mix of boys and girls. They are all entering 7th or 8th grade and they are avid readers. We started out by introducing ourselves and talking about our book preferences this morning. I have a paranormal fan, action fan, humor fan, romance, classics, and lots more. One student is currently reading Sherlock Holmes while another is working on his own novel. I’m very impressed! We also had a great discussion about e-readers. I was surprised to hear that most of the students do not use e-readers, and if they have one it was usually a gift. Those with gifted e-readers said they use them to read classics or free stories/novels posted in the e-bookstore. In fact, they were pretty big fans of self-published shorter works. That’s a first for me! But they were unanimous in declaring their love for paper books. E-readers were more of a matter of convenience, used on vacations or while waiting around in places without reading material (usually a phone was used in that case).
We spent today talking about Mike Mullins’ Ashfall, in preparation for s Skype call with him tomorrow morning. The kids can’t wait to chat to Mike Mullins after our talk today. We discussed our favorite parts of the books, how we might react in the event of a supervolcano reaction, and other book recommendations for those who enjoyed Mike Mullins’ Ashfall. After lunch, we watched a 30 minute BBC documentary about the Yellowstone supervolcano so that we all have a good grasp on the scientific possibility of an eruption in the next 50,000 years. That will give you pause!
I also started a read aloud with my campers today. I wanted a book that we could definitely finish this week, as I don’t want to leave them hanging once camp ends. The choice was a no-brainer for me. Thus, we began to share Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead today. It went over really well! We are all looking forward to reading more tomorrow.
It was a fantastic day and time flew by. I am so looking forward to tomorrow! We will be talking to Mike Mullin, reading our books, enjoying a read aloud, watching some book trailers, writing our own post-apocalyptic scenes, and then we will dive into Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs for the second half of the day. It’s going to be a great week!
As we were wrapping up our day, one of the campers raised her hand. When I looked over, she quietly said, “This if off-topic, but I just want to say how glad I am that I found this camp. I love to read and not many teachers encourage me. Most of the time they yell at me to stop reading. So this camp reminded me that it’s ok to read.”
Well, that just about broke my heart. She went on to tell me that her 3rd grade teacher caught her reading under her desk and marched over to her, tore the book out of her hand, proceeded to yell at her and humiliate her, and tossed the book to the front of the room. The worst part? The camper told me, “I wasn’t mad at her for yelling at me, because I guess I was breaking the rules. But I was so mad at her for disrespecting my book and losing my page when she threw the book. I’ve never been able to forgive her for that.”
I was speechless. All teachers should be encouraging readers, not humiliating them for reading under their desk, looking for more time to read. It’s one thing to guide a student back to the topic at hand. Sometimes it just needs to be done. But to humiliate a young reader? To throw their book across the room? To lose their page? That’s so disrespectful. Thankfully, this child was a reader and always will be. But a more reluctant reader, maybe one who just found that perfect book, might be convinced to never pick up a book again after an experience like that.
And that’s why I am thrilled to be running my bookworm camp this summer. There are lots of readers out there dying for a space where they can share their favorite hobby. I am happy to provide that for them. We have four more days of camp and they are going to be amazing!