Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Encyclomedia a Success

Here are a few shots from the Encyclomedia conference in Oklahoma.

Last week Oklahoma held their annual educators conference, Encyclomedia. A terrific panel of middle grade authors  kicked off the first panel on Thursday, October 7, 2010.

Pictured from left to right:
Fran Cannon Slayton, Award-winning author of When the Whistle Blows
Joy Preble, Author of Dreaming Anastasia, and Haunted (2011)
Bonnie J. Doerr, Author of Island Sting and Stakeout (2011)
Denise Jaden, Author of Losing Faith
Janet S. Fox, Author of Faithful

With some of the hottest titles out this year, these children’s novelists know a character when they see one. They shared great tips for using their books in the classroom. If you weren't able to attend, here's a sample of what Bonnie J. Doerr shared about Using Island Sting in the Classroom. (And, by the way, everyone loved Bonnie's yellow Crime Scene scarf that matches her bookcover.)

Bonnie J. Doerr
Island Sting
Leap Books, 2010
Mystery, adventure, and eco-crime in the Florida Keys.
Ages 10+
Visit for more educational ideas.

1.    Useful in interdisciplinary curriculum
    Relevant to many NCLB standards & expectations
·     reading/language arts
·     science
·     social studies
·     math
2.    Attractive to reluctant teen readers
3.    Appropriate for ages 10 and up
4.    Of interest to both boys and girls
5.    Fast-paced
6.    Short sentences and paragraphs
7.    Generous white space on pages
8.    Includes maps and illustrations
9.    Flesch-Kincaid reading level 5
10.    Flesch reading ease 73
11.    Paperback format
12.    Soon to be available in eBook format.
13.    Extensive vocabulary list on website
14.    Author notes include additional information on
•     habitat
•     endangered Florida Key deer
•     research
•     history
15. Website teacher guide under reconstruction includes:
•     discussion questions
•     specific lessons
•     activities

Island Sting by Bonnie J. Doerr
                    TEACHER GUIDE OVERVIEW

Plot Analysis – As a mystery with clues and red herrings, Island Sting’s plot lends itself to a breakdown of inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Plot points can easily be recorded on a graphic organizer.

Cause & Effect, Sequence of Events – Plot analysis of Island Sting naturally leads to an understanding of how incidents propel action to the next event and lead to a solution of the mystery.

Reading Response – As a contemporary novel with a strong ecological element, Island Sting
lends itself to discussion and personal response connecting the text to self and beyond.

Language Choice – The National Key Deer Refuge setting of Island Sting is strongly developed. It serves as an excellent example of how word choice is used to develop a sense of place and how setting contributes to character development.

 Changing Literary Language – Island Sting is a prime example of changing style. Its use of dialogue, fast action, short sentences, and lack of long descriptive passages can be compared and contrasted to earlier mysteries or other classic genres.

Figurative Language   (Evaluation following study unit)

Skill: Students will display knowledge of figurative language by identifying and explaining idioms, similes, and metaphors in passages and phrases in Island Sting.

Pre-activity preparation: Teacher will copy the provided passages and cut into strips or paste on cards

Activity Introduction: Teacher will read sample  passages from Island Sting. Students will identify: speaker, circumstances, and type of figurative language utilized in the passage. Students will discuss why the comparison does or does not work and rewrite or retell the quote using original figurative language. After providing sufficient examples for comprehension, the teacher will divide students into cooperative groups and distribute passages. (Passages are provided in teacher guide.)

Example: “(You) roared through that field like wildfire.” (p. 38)
Answer: This is Angelo describing Kenzie's frantic attack on the buzzards. The simile works because a wild fire moves rapidly and is hot. Kenzie was racing forward in anger, and anger is associated with heat.

Possible rewrite: You raced through that field like a tornado.

Island Sting by Bonnie J. Doerr


Plan, prewrite, and compose a letter to persuade your middle school principal that litter cleanup at a local park should be a community service project for your campus.

Do you agree or disagree that national refuges should be established for the protection of endangered species?  Organize your reasons in a logical order before you write.

Social Studies and Math - Kenzie moves from New York City to Big Pine Key, Florida.

1.    On a map of the Eastern United States, trace two different routes Kenzie’s mom could have driven—a scenic route and a direct route.
2.    Identify at least five points of interest stops along each route. Explain your rationale for choosing these locations.
3.    In order, north to south, name the states through which your preferred route would pass.
4.    Estimate your trip's total mileage.
5.    Assuming you average a speed of sixty miles per hour including short stops (not taking into account overnight stays or points of interest side trips), estimate the your driving time.
6.    If your vehicle averages 30 miles per gallon estimate how much fuel your trip would require.

                                  Key Deer Deaths  1994 -1997 : Table 1

Year     Male     Female     Total       
1994     42     21     63       
1995     63     24     87       
1996     61     29     90       
1997     86     27     113    

Graphing Lesson I

Skills: Students will transfer data from Key Deer Deaths 1994 -1997: Table 1 to triple line and triple bar graphs. Students will choose appropriate intervals and construct their own graph keys.
Teacher Information: Data has been manipulated for this activity. Precise statistics on Key deer population and mortality are included in the Texas A & M research study. (
Introduction: Teacher will provide the above table and grid paper for graphing. Students will discuss and interpret data and discuss possible reasons for Key deer deaths (examples: traffic, disease, loss of habitat).
Work time: Students will work individually or in small cooperative groups. Students will transfer data from the table provided and construct graphs documenting Key deer deaths over a period of four years. Based on the data provided students must determine appropriate intervals to best display the statistics.
Conclusion and Evaluation: Students will share individual graphs with the class, compare and discuss. Suggestion: Based on discussions, students correct graphs, then submit corrected graphs to teacher for final evaluation.

Island Sting by Bonnie J. Doerr
Graphing Lesson 2
Key Deer Population 1993-1999: Table 2

Key Deer Population    1993    1994    1995    1996    1997    1998    1999      
Male Key deer    68    87    109    134    155    169    187      
Female Key deer    223    267    292    304    321    357    389      
Total Key deer population    291    354    401    438    476    526    576   

Introduction: Teacher will review tables and graphs. Teacher will provide Key Deer Population: Table 2 and grid paper for graphing. Students will discuss observed trends. Examples: there are fewer male than female Key deer, populations of both male and female deer rise over the seven year research. Include discussion concerning possible reasons for population rise (refuge management, education, enforcement of speed limit, fencing of highway, etc.).
Skill: Students will transfer data from Key Deer Population 1993-1999: Table 2 to triple line and triple bar graphs. Students will choose appropriate intervals and construct their own graph keys.
Work Time: Students will work individually or in small cooperative groups.
Conclusion and Evaluation: Students will share graphs with class, compare and discuss.  Suggestion: After discussion and sharing, students may be allowed to correct their graphs, then turn them in for final evaluation.


Though there are often several definitions for the following words, the meanings in this list apply to their usage in Island Sting.
Chapter 1
•    canal – n. narrow man-made waterway
•    mangrove – n. tropical seaside tree or shrub that sends out many above-ground prop roots
•    miscalculated – v. got it wrong
•    flounder – v. struggle

Chapter 2
•    distinguish – v. recognize
•    adrenaline – n. A hormone secreted by the adrenal gland in response to physical or mental stress (as from fear). Adrenaline increases heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory  (breathing) rate.
•    victorious – adj. winning
•    treading water – a skill that allows a swimmer to remain afloat, in one place, in an upright position, with the least expenditure of energy
•    hypothermia - n. dangerously low body temperature
•    ventilate (medical) – v. the act of reviving and returning someone to consciousness by forcing air into lungs

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