Sunday, February 12, 2012


Why yes, I do realize it's 2012! But guess what I forgot about? That would be my blog...

With the world of social media, I have recently gotten a Twitter (follow me @lastingrosebud), Goodreads account (username: misscasabona), and started a website for my classroom where my students can stay current on homework, vocab words, extra credit, book reviews, and other resources.

Therefore, it is no surprise that along the way I have lost all sense of writing for my own, personal reasons. The highlight of 2011 for me was attending the NCTE and ALAN conventions in Chicago, IL. My first time in Chicago, and my 3rd annual attendance at the NCTE convention, left me with more resources and information than I could handle. I resorted to making a Google document to commemorate all that I learned during my trip, from the various teaching workshops.

For the second year in a row, I had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with educational advocate and teacher, Kylene Beers.

I promise to write more about the convention when I have some free time. For now, it's off to grade some student journals while watching the remainder of the Grammy's!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Much More Than Staying Afloat

The pencils were sharpened, the posters were hung, the desks were arranged in the ever-inviting U-shape. The only thing missing were the students.
(Classroom Library and posters)

The days leading up to the first day of school were filled with anticipation, anxiety, and excitement. I was nervous about establishing a classroom culture, especially as a new teacher. My students, only eight years younger than me, had the potential to smell fear and eat me alive.

Many new teachers are probably just trying to stay afloat...but for me, I think I'm beyond that. I'm looking towards the future, end goals for the students, and my instruction. Our school functions on an understanding by design model, which is how I made my lessons while I was in college. The transition is relatively easy for me, so now I can build. I'm ready to try new things, make mistakes, and learn from my students. And the best news is that I still have 166 days of school left to do all this!
(My desk in the back office.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review of Kathryn Stockett's "The Help"

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In her debut novel, Stockett paints the picture of a racially divided, not-so-equal Jackson, Mississippi. Every few chapters of the novel is told from a different perspective, alternating between maids Aibileen and Minny and the white daughter of a farm owner, Miss Skeeter. One of the best aspects of this novel is that it helps illustrate how historical events are connected and not merely isolated incidents. Beginning in 1962, the novel primarily follows the path of Miss Skeeter after she returns from college (husbandless) and finds that her maid Constantine has been fired by her mother. When Skeeter’s friend Holly begins to stir up racial tensions, Skeeter begins a dangerous mission to expose the truth of race relations in the South. Enlisting the help of neighborhood maids, Skeeter pens the maids’ stories as well as her own, showing how both kindness and hatred can simultaneously exist.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why You Should Read "Thirteen Reasons Why"

For those of you unfamiliar with Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why, it is his debut novel in which he fictionally depicts the thirteen reasons why his character Hannah Baker commits suicide. When high school student Clay Jensen receives cassette tapes in the mail, on which Hannah records her reasons for committing suicide, Clay doesn't want to listen but at the same time can't put the tapes down.

Here are my thirteen reasons why I think you should read Thirteen Reasons Why:

13. The multi-faceted narration: We get the perspectives of Hannah and Clay intertwined at the same time. He provides details that Hannah doesn't always include and vice versa.
12. The intricately woven plot: Each of the thirteen reasons why Hannah commits suicide correspond with thirteen people and incidents. And guess what...every one of these is connected...the classic snowball effect.
11. The play/pause/stop buttons: Whenever Clay plays a tape, a little "play" button is printed in the novel. As readers we "watch" Clay push the pause and stop buttons, knowing he needs a break to process the information.
10. The map: Hannah had slipped a map into each person's locker who she mentions on the tapes. On this map she puts a pink star on various locations that the plans on referencing in her tapes. Clay goes on a journey to each location, as he attempts to cope with what he's hearing. A copy of the map is printed in the inside cover of the novel.
9. Peer Communications class: A class in the high school where students are supposed to be able to discuss any topics. But when someone drops a note about suicide in the discussion box, suddenly the class is not so open and friendly. This class provides a real lesson to teachers and other students that they need to be more receptive to serious issues.
8. The online tapes: If you go to you can listen to portions of the tapes, narrated by an actress. Remember this is a fictional story, but based on real issues.
7. Each chapter is a different side of the tape: As each person's story runs out, the end of the chapter signifies this end of the story, while also beginning to implicate the next person.
6. Clay Jensen: Throughout the whole novel Clay metaphorically beats himself up for not helping Hannah or realizing what she was going through. And for that, I find him admirable.
5. Small town life: As indicated by the map, this whole novel takes place in a small, nondescript American town. I like the fact that not too many details about the setting are given, because then each reader can visualize the town for themselves.
4. The novel takes place over the course of one day (or should I say night): Clay begins listening to the tapes when he finds them after school one day, and he doesn't stop listening until well into the night. He travels from location to location pretty much without being bothered.
3. The fast pace: Since the novel takes place in only one night, and since each chapter is a different side of the tape, the novel is quite fast-paced. I couldn't put the book down and read the entire thing in one sitting.
2. The suspense: As the story unfolds, my brain tried to put the pieces o
f the story together, but I simply couldn't forget the connections myself. I needed Hannah to tell me the story.
1. Teen suicide can be prevented, and this book will emotionally charge people into action...or at least into being aware what some of the signs of suicide are. As Ha
nnah says in the novel, "When you mess with one part of a person's life, you're messing with their entire life." People need to be aware that bullying or teasing or anything of that nature affect others.

You can view the book trailer that I created for the novel at the following link:

Also, check out Jay Asher's website for the book:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm Back!

Sorry for the brief hiatus, but the end of the school year was super busy especially with graduation and job interviews! Speaking of interviews, I got a job in Mount Olive and will be teaching 9th grade English next year! Some of the novels I will be teaching include: Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, Oedipus Rex, Great Expectations, and 12 Angry Men.

Thanks to the public domain, I was able to download 12 Angry Men, Great Expectations, and Oedipus Rex for free. I've never actually read these three works in their entirety, so I'm in for a new experience with some old classics. I remember my text book in school had an excerpt from Great Expectations, so our teacher had us read that instead of the whole novel. As opposed to these three texts which I haven't fully read, To Kill a Mockingbird you may remember was one of the books I taught while I was student teaching. Hopefully I'll be able to exert some creative control over this unit and incorporate the detailed scrapbook project that I had my seventh and eighth grade honors students complete this year. Apparently the ninth grade teachers all teach the same units at the same time, so I'm hoping I'll still have the opportunity to demonstrate my own creativity. Time to start reading and brainstorming lesson plan ideas!

Also this summer, in addition to planning for the upcoming school year, I am trying to read as much YA Lit as possible. My friend from TCNJ encouraged me to register for, so that I can track which books I've read and write reviews for the books as well. In a Microsoft Word document I am also storing a copy of my reviews for each novel, hoping to develop some sort of classroom resource for next year. This way, when someone asks for a book recommendation, I can provide them with a short summary and honest feedback. I've managed to read a lot of books already this summer and am currently finishing up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I'm hoping to finish reading Star-Crossed by Josephine Angelini next, a novel with a Romeo and Juliet type romance set in the present day, with elements of Greek mythology thrown in. I might even be able to incorporate passages from this book into my Romeo and Juliet unit if I find the novel useful.

Now back to my heavy duty reading list.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Poetry Survey Using Google Forms

For my LIT 388 class, Contemporary Literature, with Professor Carney, we have an extra credit assignment where we can read poems to three different people, talk to them about the poems, and then write a response. I chose Sylvia Plath as the poet I wish to discuss with my friends and family; however, I wanted to also have more to write about for my response survey, so I did the following using Google Forms:

If you have a Google account, then you can use the Google Documents feature to create presentations, spreadsheets, documents, etc. One feature of Google Documents is to create a form, in which you can design the layout of the form, and ask a variety of questions, ranging from multiple choice to short answer. You have the option of making questions mandatory or optional, and then once people take the survey, Google will generate pie graphs and charts for you with the results and will also compile all of the results in a spreadsheet. It's a pretty nifty tool, especially as a future teacher!

If you are interested in seeing what a Google Form can look like, or if you would like to take my survey, click on this link.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Barnes & Noble Free Fridays!

Every Friday Barnes & Noble introduces a new e-book that you can download for free, so why not give a new novel or a new author a try? This week's free download is Wings Free by Aprilynne Pike.
The synopsis provided on Barnes & Noble states: "Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words. Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings. In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever."