Welcome to the Student Blogging Challenge!

The Blogging Challenge
(not to be confused with The Best Student Blog Award) is a weekly activity designed to turn you all into expert bloggers.

Each week there will be lots of activities to choose from. You don’t have to complete them all, but you’ll be dropped from the participation list if you don’t post regularly.  Most likely, you will be assigned a mentor, an adult blogger who will visit your blog from time to time and check on your


progress, leave comments, or encougage you with ideas.  Make sure you reply to their comments as soon as you can!

Your first challenge will involve creating an avatar (if you don’t already have one), and revamping your About Me page. There are 8 activities in this challenge, but you don’t have to do them all, either. (Some are class activities that we probably won’t do, unless you want to organize them yourself.)

Let’s get to it! Complete the following by 9:00 am on DLD, Wednesday, 3/18.

  1. place your Blogging Challenge Badge
  2. complete at least Activities 1, 6, and 9 at the link below.
  3. Leave a comment to this post and include the link to your blog so I can give you credit.

Click HERE and scroll down to Let’s start the activities



Another Exemplary Book Post

This is a great example of abook review that follows closely the How To Write a Book Review outline.  Notice how Hannah devotes only one paragraph to the summary, but three to her analysis of the author’s choices.  Notice also how she explained each choice and how it effected her reading experience, and also provided an excerpt so you could see for yourself.  Check out Hannah’s page and leave a comment.


 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban

Sirius Black is said by the Ministry of Magic to be one of the most dangerous people ever, he has escaped from Azkaban and is rumored to be after Harry Potter. How could someone escape a prison guarded by dementors, non-beings and dark creatures that feed upon human happiness and cause depression and despair to anyone near it? Why is Black after Potter anyways? Is he really seeking revenge or is there a deeper truth to all of this? Read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third installment of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling to find out.

J.K. Rowling, real name Joanne Rowling, is the brilliant author behind the 7 book series that is Harry Potter. The idea of Harry Potter came to her on a delayed train ride from Manchester to London in 1990. Over the next 7 years, she would face the death of her mother, divorce from her first husband and poverty before the first book in the series was published. The first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected by 12 publishers,before a small one, called Bloomsbury said yes, seeing the potential, and you bet there was potential! The series would go on to become the best selling book series in history, and the 8 movies based on the books would become the highest-grossing film series in history (man, all those publishers that rejected her must feel really stupid now). Rowling was born in Yate, Gloucestershire on July 31, 1965.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban takes place during Harry’s third year at Hogwarts. Just before the school year starts, Sirius black, the supposedly mass murder, has escaped from Azkaban and everyone thinks he is after Harry for revenge. Harry is not as worried as everyone else because he will be at Hogwarts and Albus Dumbledore is there, so he will be safe, or so he thinks. One night Sirius breaks into the castle and gets into the Gryffindor dorms and instead of attacking Harry’s bed he got Ron’s. Did he actually mean to attack Ron or was it an accident? What could Ron have that Black would want? The only thing Ron owns is his pet rat Scabbers and why would Black want a dumb rat? Without giving too much away, you will find out that Scabbers is more than just a pet rat, but a key point to uncovering the truth of what happened the night Sirius was framed for the murder of many muggles.

Rowling does many things in her writing that make this whole series so enjoyable.The first thing she does is write the book in third person, while still allowing the readers to know what Harry is thinking. For example, “Harry tried to concentrate on his food, but his hands shook and his face was starting to burn with anger. Remember the form, he told himself. Think about hogsmeade. Don’t say anything. Don’t rise-.” In this scene Harry was trying to keep himself calm, while his Aunt Marge (who isn’t even his aunt) said bad things about his parents. This is because Harry needed his actual Uncle Vernon to sign his permission form to allow him to go into Hogsmeade when he got back to Hogwarts. I think this is an important element of the book because you are able to know what Harry is thinking even though the story is told by an undefined narrator. This allows Rowling to write chapters that do not include Harry in them but are necessary to the story.

Another thing Rowling does is include noticeable themes that are relatable to real life. One of the major themes for the 3rd Harry Potter book is loyalty. When Harry first meets Sirius, he is very angry at him because Harry thinks Sirius betrayed his father many years ago by giving up his parent’s hiding place to Voldemort. Sirius then explains to Harry that is wasn’t him but Peter Pettigrew and then lashes out at Peter saying, “YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED! Black yells at him, DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOU FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!”. There is another point earlier in the story when after Ron and Harry tell Hagrid how they have been fighting with Hermione. They said it was about Hermione’s cat Crookshanks allegedly eating Ron’s rat Scabbers, as well as Hermione getting Harry’s brand new broomstick taken away for testing to make sure it wasn’t jinxed after it was sent to him on Christmas by an anonymous person. Hagrid then says to Harry and Ron, “I thought you two’d value yer friend more’n broomsticks or rats.” This made Ron and Harry realize that Hagrid was right and they were able to make up with Hermione not too long after.

One final thing Rowling does well in her writing is descriptions. You are able to clearly imagine what is being described without actually having a picture. For example, “Once you got over the shock of seeing something that was half horse, half bird, you started to appreciate the hippogriffs’ gleaming coats, changing smoothly from feathers to hair, each of them a different color: stormy gray, bronze, pinkish roan, gleaming chestnut, and inky black.” – p. 114. Iwas able to picture what this hippogriff looked like. I also liked how Rowling described the colors, not just calling them gray and black, but stormy gray and inky black. I feel like these things just add another level to the book and really make you feel like you are at Hogwarts tagging along with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

In conclusion, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a great continuation of the Harry Potter series! You, along with Harry learn new things about his parent’s past. I recommend this book to people who have read the first two Harry potter books and some how didn’t know there was more or people who are for some reason thinking about quitting the series (it only gets better). I would also recommend reading the first two books of the series before this one, if you haven’t already. DO NOT read the books out of order or you will not understand many of the things going on! There is a reason why 1 means first and 2 means second, because there are events that happen in one book that then cause something else to happen in the next and you won’t understand why if you don’t read them in order. One last thing is that this series is obviously under the genre fantasy because sadly magic is not real.

An Exemplary Book Review

You picked it. This review got the most votes from Monday’s Read-Around.  It isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn good for a first draft.

Below is the full text of the review, but HERE is the full text with my annotations, highlighting some of the things the review does well. Use this as a model to help you revise your own review, which I’m sure will turn out to be just as awesome!


“If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?”

These questions had haunted Anna Fitzgerald all her life, literally since the day she was born. In fact, she was brought into this world to save her sisters life. Because Anna’s sister Kate had acute promyelocytic leukemia, she was constantly in need of leukocytes or stem cells or bone marrow. And Anna was expected to give it to her. Almost any time Kate was admitted to the hospital, Anna was too. And she hated it. Which was why, when her parents asked for her kidney, she decided to file for medical emancipation, or the rights to her own body.

My Sister’s Keeper is incredibly well written. The characters that Jodi Picoult created are vibrant and colorful and ironically full of life, as is true in many of her other 19 novels. As a mother of three, Picoult had a very unique insight. To write about a dying child must have been a very challenging topic, when you have three of your own.

When writing about such a controversial subject as adolescent cancer, many authors would tip-toe around the fear that this could happen to anyone. But Picoult didn’t take any precautions to shield her readers from the harsh reality of the real world. The book takes place in a fairly affluent neighborhood, so the characters are not greatly affected by outside conflicts such as poverty. But even though the characters didn’t have financial worries, they were faced with the struggle of Kate Fitzgerald’s leukemia everyday. Kate had been diagnosed when she was just two years old. After endless chemotherapy treatments, the end was near, until her doctor unofficially recommended umbilical cord blood. This meant having another child. So Kate’s parents decided to have a baby, introducing Anna Fitzgerald, otherwise known as Kate’s spare parts. From the moment of her birth, Anna donated parts from her body to help Kate. Over the years, resentment started to build up, until finally, when her parents asked for her kidney to save Kate’s life, Anna had no choice but to refuse.

So, she went to Campbell Alexander, a very expensive, very high-class lawyer in the hopes that he would take on her case to file for medical emancipation. And he did. If she won the trial, Anna would get to make all future medical decisions instead of her parents. But there was a catch. If Anna refused to give her kidney to her sister, Kate would die.

I don’t really know if i would recommend this book to just anyone, because of the ongoing struggle between life and death, holding on and letting go. These conflicts can be difficult to comprehend. As a reader, I feel that to enjoy this book you have to really understand it’s message: that sometimes its okay to let go. At the end of the book, the author made a very risky decision which caused me to both love and hate the book.  A major theme in this story that was conveyed through the struggles of the characters is that you need to do whats best for the people you love, even its not what you want. Picoult’s decision to have multiple narrators greatly influences the reader’s experience. The different narrators each give the reader a different perspective which leaves the reader to decide what is the most reliable. Since the narrators all have different opinions on the conflict, their information might be clouded by personal judgements. Although, this doesn’t make them any less important.

To fully comprehend the deeper meaning behind My Sister’s Keeper, a reader must not dwell on the absolutely terrible ending.  I don’t think that the author was content with having a predictable ending, which was why she chose to end it as she did. This book was a very challenging read, and not for literary reasons. It made me question everything I know about family, fate, and even God, which is why it was so extraordinary.


Introducing: Book Posts!

Dear fellow bloggers,

Your blog will be a place for you, me and your friends to consider books, reading, authors, and writing.  You’ll think about your books in informal book posts directed at other blogger/readers, and we’ll write back to you about your ideas and observations. Our posts and responses will become a record of the reading, thinking, learning, and teaching we accomplish together.

Each book post should be at least 500 words and written as a personal, critical response to one book.  You will write one of these posts each month.  You’ll also respond to other students’ posts once they’re up.

It’s up to you which book you’ll write about.  It can be a book you loved or hated. It can be a 3-star book. You might think about these questions as you decide: Which title would be most enjoyable to revisit as a fan? What book that you abandoned – or remained hopeful to the bitter end – would be most enjoyable to revisit as a pan (a negative review)?

Once you’ve decided, return to the book. Skim it, and select at least one passage you think is significant, in terms of how you reacted to the book’s theme, problem, character development, or plot, or to the author’s style. Choose a chunk of text that you think shows something essential.  In your letter-post, copy the passage you chose, and write about what you think it shows about the book, the author, or your response to either.

Also, tell about your experience as a reader of the book. Describe what you noticed about how the author wrote. Pick out three choices the author made, and explain what you thought of them. You might discuss the themes you saw, or how the author surprised you. Pose your wonders and questions about the author, the characters, the structure, the voice, and yourself as a reader. You can use these starter phrases to help compose your thoughts.

A note about AGENCY: the best sign that you’ve written a good book post is that you’ve learned something new about yourself or your book in the process of writing it.

Make sure to include the date, the title of the book and its author at the top of your post.

I can’t wait for your first book posts to learn from you, learn with you, and help you learn more about the power and pleasures of books.

-Mr. O

written with help from Nancy Atwell’s The Reading Zone, 2007
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