Natalie's Blog

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Literacy Circles: Update

June10

In today’s post I will be talking about different kinds of characters,  classify the characters in my novel, update you on what is going on, and make predictions.

There are two different types of characters in a book. One is called a round character, the other kind is a flat character. A round character is one who is very central to the story, otherwise called a main character. We get to know their personality in depth, and they become familiar to us. A flat character is an unimportant person that we don’t get to know, they are just there to make the story believable. They are kind of like an extra in a movie. We sometimes don’t even hear them speak. We know little about their personality and they usually don’t affect the story in a major way.

In the novel that I am reading, there technically aren’t either of these types of characters, because it is a true story and all of these people were real. They weren’t just spoken about to make the book interesting, they just weren’t spoken about a lot. But, the characters could be put into those categories based on who we know the most about and who we don’t.

Round Characters:

Anne Frank- It is her diary, and we hear all of her thoughts and opinions. Most important character

Margot-She is Anne’s sister and is in hiding with her. We often hear Anne complaining how people like Margot better than her.

“Mummy”- Anne is constantly complaining about how she thinks her mom isn’t a good mother, so we hear much about her.

Father AKA Pim- Pim is Anne’s favourite person in her family so we hear about him a lot too.

Mrs. Van Daan- Anne doesn’t like her. She is a mean lady and starts lots of fights in the house. She is the subject of many diary entries.

Mr. Van Daan- He is in hiding with all of them, but we don’t hear about him as much

Peter- He is the Van Daan’s son. He is sixteen and we often hear about things he does.

Flat Characters

Mr. Koophuis, Miep, Henk, Ellie-they are all friends that brings the families food and supplies. They are workers in the office buildings they are hiding in.

In the book, the author (Anne) introduces us to the different characters by her comments and descriptions of them. Hers is the only point of view we ever hear. Sometimes we hear about others characters through accounts that Anne gives of things that happen. She repeats passages of dialogue exactly as they were said, and relays the story to us through her eyes. Although, her opinions could be biased in her favor.

An important event in the book that required the characters to work together was whennthey first came to the hiding place. First, the Frank family had to contact the friends from work to if they would help them. Then they had to slowly start smuggling their food and belongings into the hiding place. This required the Franks to get the thinggs ready and the helpers to put it in the office. Then, someone had to find another family that could stay there and get their things ready. This happened at this part in the story because their goingnthere was the thing that set the stage for the rest ofmthe book.  This happened in 1941 over a period of weeks. If I were Anne in this situation I would be afraid. If things had gotten to the point where it was neccesary to go into hiding then that means that things were bad and I was in danger. I would be very afraid of getting caught by the Germans. I woild also be reluctant to give up the privileges I enjoyed in everyday life. Seeing friends, and abundance of food, school, going outside, it woild all be lost. I would also be curious as to how long we would be in hiding for.

In the book, what I predict will happen next is that their food supcplies will become dangerously low. They are always eating food, but it is constantly rising in price. Ration cards are becoming difficult to find. The people who bring them food must be more careful. I think they will be going hungry for awhile befoee food becomes cheaper or easyto get.

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Challenge Three: Holes in a sock

April4

Below are ten ways you could use a sock full of holes:

1.  A rag (for cleaning up various spills, using when painting, so you don’t ruin a good towel)

2. Stuff it in cracks to keep out a draft

3. A handkerchief

4.  A strainer

5.  Something to practice sewing on (If you’re just learning)

6.  Make a homemade hacky sack

7. Make into a fingerless glove

8. Stuff in the toe of a shoe that’s too big to make it fit

9. Sunglass case (so they don’t get scratched)

10.  To sift things like powdered sugar or flour

Image source:Google

Challenge Three

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Challenge Two: My passion

April4

For this week’s challenge, we have free choice. I have decided to write about one of my passions. The passion I have chosen to talk about is student council.  I am on my school’s student council as the Deputy Prime Minister. I really enjoy doing student council things. Some of the things our student council do are creating and organizing spirit days, doing fundraisers, and representing our school at events.

There are a bunch of different positions on our student council. The highest position is Prime Minister. Next is Deputy Prime Minister (My current position). Then there are Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of Finances (not necessarily in that order), and the classroom representative  All positions except class reps are considered executive positions. You become eligible to  vote and run for student council in grade 5. But, at this age you can only become a rep. Each classroom usually has one or two reps, and they are voted for only in that classroom. In grade 6, you become eligible to run for Ministers of Finance and Social Affairs. This requires you to say a speech in front of the voting population of the school.  In grade 8 you are eligible to run for Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. This is just how things work at my school.

I really enjoy being on the student council. There are lots of things we get to do and we can have a big influence on how the spirit days turn out. We usually have a spirit day once a month, usually to do with whatever holiday is in that month. The student council must decide what spirit day it is going to be. Once we pick a theme, we have to think of games we can play. The way our spirit days work is that the whole school come to the gym in the afternoon and gets into their “families”. The families are twenty groups that have a bunch of kids in them, a few from each class. These families will then each go into a different classroom, which has been set up to be a game station. They will do an activity there that is themed like the spirit day, and after a while everyone rotates to a new classroom. The student council is responsible for coming up with which games to play, getting people to run the stations, and finding supplies for the stations. For example, just recently we had a  spirit day just before March break. The whole school dressed up like “tacky tourists” for the day. The games had an around the world theme, as if people were vacationing around the world for March break. Each classroom was a different country and the game there related to that country. It was very fun.

We don’t always go all-out like that for spirit days, though. It takes a lot of time and preparation. Sometimes we just have a dress-up day, where we will dress to a theme. On Valentine’s day, we wore red, white, and pink. Things like that.

Student council is also responsible for a lot of the charity things our school does. Each year during Lent, we try to do a charity project. Two years ago we raised a lot of money to build a house in Africa for orphans. This year we are raising money to build wells in developing nations. The student council also helps with our annual food, battery, and penny drives.  We are also responsible for the annual kingdom assignment. The kingdom assignment is modeled after a story in the bible where a master gives each of his servants money and tells them to do something with it. Each school is given one hundred dollars and must use it to make a fundraiser that will make more money. Our school had a read-a-thon and we raised an amazing amount of money. The executives on student council also attend the meetings for the kingdom assignment. One before to receive the money, and one after to give back how much we raised.

But being on the student council isn’t always easy. It requires you to give up a lot of personal and recess time. If you aren’t into it, then it’s hard to give it your all. I find it fun and rewarding if you try your best, and it’s fun because my friends are on student council with me. It gets you to have lots of new experiences. If you are debating about running for student council, I suggest you do!

Image source:FlickrCC

Challenge Two

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10 people-Challenge 1

March22

For this challenge we must name 10 people, dead or alive, that we would like to meet and name a question we would ask them. So here are mine:

1. Jesus

I would like to meet this person because it would be the best experience ever. He is the most compassionate, loving person ever.  If I could ask him one question, it would be “What were your childhood years like?” because in the bible it doesn’t talk about  his early years a lot. It just says he grew up.

2.Martin Luther King Jr. 

I would like to meet this person because I think he was an amazing person, and because he was a very influential person in African-American rights. He always used non-violent forms of protest, which is very admirable. It always seems like if you want people to listen to you, you have to be violent, but he wasn’t. He knew that if he was fighting for peace, it could only be won by peace. He was brave in standing up for what is right and it is because of him that African-Americans now have equal rights as any other person. If I could ask him one question, it would be “Why did you decide to become a civil rights activist? Out of all people, why did you think you could do it?”

3. Albert Einstein

I would like to meet this person because he was one of the smartest people on the planet. But, when he was young, he did very bad in school. People thought he was stupid, but he just had a different learning style. He is very inspirational. One question I would ask him is “What was life like during the holocaust?” Because he was alive at that time and he seen what it was like.

4.  Saint Joan of Arc

I would like to meet this person because she was very brave. When she was young she had visions of Saints and Angels, telling her to join the army to save her country. Which, she did. Their army won many battles. She was eventually captured by the enemy, and they charged her with many things she hadn’t done. After an unfair trial she was found guilty and burned at the stake. One question I would ask her is “What is it like to have visions of saints?” because I would like to know.

5. Mother Teresa

I would like to meet this person because she was very compassionate and loving. If you look on my blog, I posted the biography I wrote about her. She devoted her whole life to charity. If I could ask her one question, it would be “What were conditions like in the places you worked in?”

6. King Tut

I would like to meet him because he is a very well known historical figure, and yet people don’t hardly know anything about him. All we know is based off of his tomb. But he was a person, he had a personality and a life. If I could ask him a question it would be  “How did you die?” It seems weird, but people don’t really know exactly how he died.

7.Marie Curie

Marie curie was a female scientist that did revolutionary work in the field of radiation and made many breakthroughs for women of her time. I would like to talk to her because she was a woman who made a difference in society and helped to change people’s perspective of women. I f I could ask her one question, it would be “Were you ever discriminated against as a scientist for being a woman?”

8. Rosa parks

Rosa Parks was an African American woman who was born at a time when they were viewed as second class citizens. But she stood up (or should I say “sat down”) for what she believed in. At the time, coloured people were expected to give up their bus seats for white people if there was no room. She refused to give up her bus seat to a white man and go sit in the “coloured” section. She sparked a change in the world that ultimately led to African Americans getting equal rights as white people. I think she was an amazing women who went against the public s to speak for what was right. If I could, I would ask her “What was going through your mind when you refused to give up your seat?”

9. Malala Yousafzai 

For those of you who don’t know, Malala Yousafzai is a teenage girl from Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban for saying that girls should be able to go to school and have equal rights. That’s right, they shot an innocent teenage girl in the head for just speaking her mind. Malala survived, and is now recognized worldwide for her bravery. If I could ask her one thing, it would be “Did you ever think you would be hurt like this for speaking out?”

10. One Direction

I know that the rest of the people I’ve been talking about are amazing historical figures, but it would still be pretty awesome to meet them. I am a big fan of them! If I could ask them one thing, I would ask “What’s it like to become famous so quickly?”
Challenge One

image source:FlickrCC

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My Book Report

March7

As an assignment, my class was doing a book talk. As part of that we needed to make a plot chart, create a piece of art demonstrating our book, write a report, and perform a monologue. I chose to do the book “I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You” written by Ally Carter. For my art, I made a diorama of a scene of the book. Below is my book report.

****SPOILER ALERT: In the following report I will give away the ending of the book.  If you would like to read the book yourself, then do not read the report.

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You

           Okay, so every girl may spend her teenage years trying to understand boys, but for Cammie Morgan, it’s a bit different. She’s not exactly a “normal” teenager.  Ever since she was in the 7th grade, Cammie has been attending “The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women”.  This school is known to the public as a fancy boarding school for snooty rich girls, but in reality, it’s a secret spy school. Cammie is a legacy, the daughter of two CIA legends and a descendant of the school’s founder, Gilly Gallagher. Now, Cammie is about to start her toughest mission yet, love. Written by Ally Carter, this fantastic book highlights the failures and successes of Cammie’s secret love relationship, while juggling the average day-to-day problems of a spy in training. This book is an adventure book, a real page turner that will always leave you wanting more! It’s 284 pages of action. Part of the Gallagher Girls Series, it is the first in a whole series of great books.
This book takes place in the small town of Roseville, Virginia. A perfectly subtle place to hide a very unsubtle school. The Gallagher Academy rests peacefully on the manicured grounds of a 200 year old mansion, once owned by Gilly Gallagher, the founder and inspiration of the school. Nobody in this town suspects the Gallagher girls of anything but being conceited and rich, something they use to their advantage to fly below the radar. The main character, Cammie Morgan, has been going to the school for a long time, and is destined to be a great spy. Her mother, one of the CIA’s best operatives, is the headmistress of the school. Cammie lost her father a long time ago, he went out on a mission and never came home. Not uncommon for a spy, but she would never know the details, that’s classified. All she has is memories and an empty grave in their family cemetery plot. Cammie’s best Friends at school are Rebecca Baxter, (AKA Bex) and Elizabeth Sutton, (AKA Liz). Liz is a genius; she’d been in MENSA ever since she was nine. Though she may be one of the most intelligent people to ever attend the school, she’s a little naïve, a firm believer that textbooks know everything. Bex is almost the opposite. The first non-American Gallagher girl to ever attend the school, she doesn’t exactly always follow the rules. She’s adventurous and outgoing, and loves being a spy. At the beginning of the year, a new teacher comes to the school. His name is Joe Solomon and he is young and good looking, and as a result, all of the girls are in love with him. He is the covert operations teacher.

Soon after the start of school, Macey McHenry is thrown into the mix. Macey is a rebellious teen, daughter of the state senator. She’s been thrown out of every boarding school her parents have tried, and now they’re desperate.Unaware that the Gallagher Academy isn’t a normal boarding school, the McHenry’s decide to try it. Cammie and Bex are chosen to give her and her family a tour of the school, knowing she’ll never get in because she not “in the know” on the whole spy thing. But, when Cammie, Bex, and Liz find out that Macey is going to be their new roommate, they are perplexed. It turns out that Macey is a great granddaughter of Gilly Gallagher herself. Due to her ancestry, and her good grades, Macey is let in the school. But, she’s grumpy and hostile, partly because she has to be in the seventh grade classes until she’s caught up. Macey seems to just be a setback to the girls, but they try to make the best out of it.

When Cammie, Bex, and Liz are sent to do their first covert operations assignment, a mission at the Roseville carnival, Cammie runs into Josh. He is a normal boy who thinks she’s a normal girl. He seems to be interested in Cammie, but she can’t tell. She may be fluent in 14 different languages, but teenage boy isn’t one of them. Plus, she knows she can never have a normal relationship with him. He can never know the real her. Cammie can’t shake the encounter out of her head, though. When Bex and Liz find out, they say she must tell someone to make sure he didn’t find out anything. But if everyone else finds out, Josh will be given an extremely thorough investigation, like follow-you-around-twenty-four-seven investigation. So the girls decide to take matters into their own hands and do a quick background-check on Josh.

As the girls go deeper into his life, things get more and more confusing. They find a note from another girl who, from the sounds of things, really likes Josh. One night Macey overhears the three talking about their “special project”. When the girls discover that Macey is an expert on guys, they enlist her help. Macey helps them analyze each little detail they discover about Josh. By using the information they have gathered from snooping, they determine that Josh will be in the Roseville town square at a certain time. Then Cammie meets him there, pretending it’s a “coincidence” .Then, she does it again. Every time Macey deciphers for them everything Josh says, and Cammie begins to like it more and more. But, she realises that she can’t keep doing this without getting caught or falling behind on homework. So they start to leave each other secret messages. They do this by using a loose stone in the town square and hiding the notes under it.

Cammie gets extremely excited when Josh asks her to go on a movie date with him. However, the date would be on the same night as the Gallagher career fair. Cammie now has to choose between the future she has dreamed about for years, or her relationship with Josh. Cammie stays a little while at the career fair and then goes on her date. At the end of the date, Josh kisses her and she thinks that she might actually be able to pull this whole things off. Cammie loves her new relationship and begins sneaking out whenever possible to see Josh. But she never spends any time with her friends anymore and is getting behind on homework.

Just when things are starting to get tense, Josh takes Cammie on a big surprise date. They go to the city’s harvest dance and are having fun when Cammie realises her Mom is there with Mr. Solomon. This couldn’t be more disastrous since she could get in big trouble, and neither person is supposed to know about the other. Cammie tries to  avoid them both for a while, when Macey, Bex, and Liz come to rescue her. Cammie declines their rescue, upsetting them, to let Josh take her home. At the end of the night, he gives her a pair of diamond earrings and tells her “Happy Birthday”. She is confused because it’s not really her birthday. But, Cammie realises this was the fake birthday she had told Josh amongst her web of lies. She also realises it was her father’s birthday, and she was so caught up in seeing Josh, she forgot all about it. This is inexcusable, and Cammie begins to realise how much she’s neglected the rest of her life.

The sophomore class is given the opportunity to go to town the following Saturday. Cammie sneaks away from the group to spend time with Josh at his family’s pharmacy in town. While she’s there, another Gallagher girl, Anna, comes to have her prescription refilled, when some of Josh’s friends come in. They start to harass her, and threaten her because nobody likes the Gallagher girls. Cammie wants to stand up for her friend, but if Josh’s friends see her, she’ll blow her cover. Cammie hides and watched things unfold, when Bex and Macey come in to help Anna. They manage to avoid a fight, without Cammie’s help. But Liz sees what Cammie did, and isn’t impressed. Cammie is losing sense of who she is, and didn’t help a friend in need.

Liz eventually forgives Cammie. She’s hurt, but knows that Josh makes Cammie happy. Cammie thinks things might be going well again when they notice something in Josh’s email, which they had been monitoring. Josh’s friend Dillon emailed Josh saying that he had seen Cammie with the Gallagher girls in town and he knew Cammie was lying. He said that he was going to get proof that night. Cammie knew she couldn’t let this go any further. She couldn’t let any of her sisters get hurt and she couldn’t keep this going forever.

She met up with Josh and Dillon in town, right before they got to Gallagher academy.  She tells Josh the truth, well, the abridged truth. She told him that she went to the Gallagher Academy and she had lied a lot. Needless to say, he wasn’t very happy. Of course he resorted right to the the stereotypes, that Cammie was some rich heiress who had played him. He was angry, and sad. But so was Cammie. He had spent time with her. He had liked her. How dare he assume she was conceited and snooty? But her bad mood didn’t last for long. Suddenly she was grabbed by someone in a van. She kicked and fought, but she eventually realised it was one of her teachers. He was helping Mr. Solomon. This must be her Covert Operations test.

She knew it had been coming and now her training kicked in. Her teachers drove her to the location of the test and tied her up. She was told that her team was trying to retrieve a disk that had valuable information on it. She had been captured. She could not be sure whether or not her team would find this location. Cammie soon escaped the restraints and surveyed the area, an abandoned warehouse.She soon located Bex and Liz and was informed about where everyone else was. She didn’t feel like someone who had just had her heart broken, she felt like a girl on a mission.

Just as the girls were getting ready to go through with the mission, Josh stormed in on them. He had seen Cammie getting grabbed by Mr. Solomon and thought she was actually getting kidnapped. What he didn’t know was that surrounded by a bunch of highly trained teenage spies, he was the one who would need saving. He tried to save her yet again inside the warehouse by driving a forklift through the wall just as they were about to retrieve the disk. The mission was over and Cammie was exposed. Her mother and Mr. Solomon both saw Josh. It was all over. Mrs. Morgan and Mr. Solomon spent all night in her office telling Josh all the secrets. Cammie met him in the morning and he was upset, but a little happy to finally know all these things. Cammie is elated though. If he forgives her then they can get back together again after the break. She won’t need to lie anymore. But just as he leaves, she finds out he was given memory-erasing tea. He won’t remember any of it. That’s where the book ends until the next one in the series.

I chose to read this book because I thought it sounded very interesting. I think espionage is really cool. I have watched a few movies that have had spies in them, and I think it’s a very interesting topic. Also, I think it’s nice how the author incorporated a love story into the spy theme. Pretty much any book you read  will have romance or a”love triangle” in it these days. I thought the author incorporated it in a new way that was entertaining and innovative. Also, the topic of spies hasn’t been used a lot in many books that I’ve seen so I thought it would be interesting.The author creates a world that is fun and, although fictional, very realistic. It was fun to hear about how the life of a spy might be like, and at times the author, Ally Carter, used this to make some humor. Overall I chose this book because it looked interesting and new.

Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The Characters in the story seemed very realistic. The way they reacted to things and events seemed to be exactly how a real person would act in that situation. The author was able to convey the thoughts and feelings of a teenage girl trying to navigate her first relationship. The way the book was written was as if Cammie was saying it herself, but by the way the words sounded it sounded just like a teenage girl would say it. Cammie starts spending all of her time with Josh and neglecting the other relationships in her life just like it often happens in real life. I thought the author did a great job with the character Macey McHenry. Macey acted rebellious, the couldn’t-care-less-type. But underneath, you could see she was insecure. She wanted to do well in school, but she studied secretly so no one would see her. You could tell she desperately lacked attention from her parents, and as a result, acted like she didn’t care if people loved her or not. But she strives to please others. The characters were extremely realistic and, in some cases, very relatable. Anybody can find themselves thinking of friends or family members who may have similar personalities to the characters.

One thing I thought the author could have done better was describe the setting better. Ally Carter did an okay job describing the Gallagher mansion. I could kind of picture it. But, since most of the story takes place there, it would have been nice to have more of a sense of what it looked like. All you’re really told is that it is big, old fashioned, and well decorated. Other than that, it’s left up to your imagination, which can sometimes be an issue because if your idea of it is too far from how it really is, you can get confused later on in the book. I didn’t think the author did a good job describing the town of Roseville at all. You were told it was small, but at some points it is described as large. The town square, where many important scenes take place, is hardly described at all. I thought the story could have been much better had there been more description. A book is difficult to write, because you might know or see something inside your head as an author, but you have to know how to get your reader to see the same thing. Ally Carter could have done much better at that. Also, it would have been nice for her to describe the characters better. Mostly all that is said is haircolour and whether or not they are young, old, beautiful, ect. Throughout the whole book, the author never describes the main character, Cammie, at all. Even though it’s written from Cammie’s perspective, a good author should know how to incorporate these things. Lastly, the author does not give much indication of the passage of time. It is hard to tell how long it’s been between major events, and it is very hard to tell whether or not the book takes place over a whole school year or just one semester. These are all small things that can largely affect the overall appearance of a book. I don’t’ think the author did a good job describing the setting.

Overall, I thought the storyline was pretty good. At times it could be a little hard to follow. Whenever *the girls made a plan, the author didn’t explain what the plan was, only how they executed it. That made it difficult to follow, but other than that it was very enjoyable. Cammie must make several difficult decisions in the story. Plus, it’s comical to watch her learn how to be in a relationship as she obsesses over every little detail. I think the author has created her own world within the book. Although it’s very realistic, there’s a little bit of fantasy with the spies and all their high tech gadgets. I would very much like to go to the Gallagher Academy, if it existed. It was very exciting and interesting. The plot of the story was very original, combining spying with love. It was very action packed. It didn’t have many cliffhangers, though, and I think it could have used a few more of those as they always make books better.

My favourite part of the story was when the girls were on their first mission at the Roseville carnival for Covert Operations. The three girls must secretly follow another teacher without him knowing and find out what beverage he has to drink. This particular teacher is a former spy and quite paranoid, making it all the more difficult. I liked this part of the story because you get to see them in action on a mission. It doesn’t have any of the romance thing involved because she hasn’t met Josh yet. At first, it’s nice to see them going on a normal mission to compare it to how they act on a mission when Josh is involved. It’s cool to see how they do the mission, what tactics they use. It’s like you’re learning how to be a spy as you hear about how to follow someone so they don’t catch you. It’s interesting because you get a glimpse of how good they really are and what they get taught at the school.

I would definitely recommend this book to my friends. I think that this book is a great book for girls aged 10 and up. I think this only because of the reading level. This book takes the whole love-story thing to a new level. It’s fun and humorous, exciting and enjoyable. I would rate it 8 out of ten stars; only 8 because of the aforementioned lack of description and not a lot of suspense. This book has a lot of female empowerment. After all, it is the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women.  The Gallagher girls are strong and independent, and they won’t let anybody underestimate them because they’re girls. It really shows girls they can be anything they want. On several occasions in the book, the girls managed to complete a mission that could only be done by a girl. They have the advantage of being smaller, and people wouldn’t exactly assume a pretty young girl is a deadly spy. I think any young girl would enjoy this book, and the whole series. It’s an original idea, classic love story with a twist, and an action packed thriller. That’s not exactly a combination you see every day. I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You is definitely a must read for any girl
!

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2012 video

December20

My class was given an assignment to create a video using the website animoto. We had to create a video showcasing the major events of 2012. Below is my video. I hope you enjoy it.

I think that the most important event of 2012 would be the fighting in Israel/Gaza. I believe that this is the most important because it is not just something that happened on one day. It happened over a long period of time and is still happening. So many people have died, been injured, or been affected by this fighting. And, it has a possibility to affect many people. If things get out of hand then this could be the start of World War 3. Because we have made more discoveries in the field of nuclear defenses  and other weapons since World War 2, then this war would be much more serious. It would have the potential to cause massive damage to our world. Also, this fighting has been going on for a long time. It is an ongoing event that is constantly in the news and is causing severe devastation. Many rockets have been fired, and people live in constant fear for their lives. Innocent people have been killed and wounded. I think this is most important because it has happened over a long period of time, and it is a very serious matter. It has changed the world because two countries are now enemies, and eventually other countries may begin to take sides as well. If this fighting escalates, than many more people will die. Troops will have to be sent in. This fighting needs to stop.

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Christmas break

December19

I am getting really excited for Christmas break! At my school we are getting out on Friday the 21st. When does your school get out? What are your plans for Christmas break? How will you be spending Christmas? Answer in a comment.

   I hope that everyone has a very safe break. Have a merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

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Christmas

December17

It is almost Christmas! I am getting really excited. Everybody celebrates Christmas in a special way. Some people have special traditions that they celebrate. So I thought that I would write a post about different Christmas traditions around the world.

I’ll start off by talking about the Netherlands (Holland). In the Netherlands, they celebrate two different days for Christmas. One is for gift giving, the other is to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Their version of Santa Claus is Sinterklaas. He is dressed in traditional Bishop’s clothes. On the last Saturday in November, Sinterklaas sails in on a boat from his home in Spain to Holland. There will be a parade through the city that would end at the home of the royal family. There, the royal children would have to tell Sinterklaas about their year and convince him they are good. Then, Sinterklaas goes to stay in a hotel for the rest of the season, which will now be his headquarters. On December 5th, St. Nicholas’ eve, people in Holland exchange gifts. These gifts are referred to as “surprises”, because they are just that, surprises. It is common to disguise a small gift in a large box. Or to hide gifts and leave clues for the recipient. Sinterklass also has an assistant, Zwarte Piet, or black peter. Zwarte Piet dresses in Spanish clothing, and has dark skin, His job is to accompany Sinterklaas around town and pass out little candies to children. In some versions, Zwarte Piet carries a burlap sack in which he puts the bad children to be taken away with Sinterklaas. But, nowadays, Zwarte Piet is considered a symbol of racism. The actual meaning of him is that he is Sinterklaas’ black slave, hence the dark skin, that was purchased in Spain. He is a very controversial Christmas figure. On the night of December 5th, children leave out their wooden shoes with hay in them as treats to Sinterklaas’s horses. In the morning, the hay will be replaced with candy or treats for the children. December 25th is when they go to church and eat a big dinner. I think that this is a great idea. By keeping the two days separate, gift giving and the birth of Jesus, it is easier to focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

Now I’ll talk about Russia. After the 1917 revolution, Christmas was banned in Russia. It wasn’t until 1992 when it began to be recognized again as the amount of religious people in Russia grew.  It is now widely celebrated. On Christmas eve, family members all have a special meal together. Traditions in these meals vary. In some places the meal is not allowed to have any meat in it. The meal comes after a period of fasting prior to the celebration of Christmas. The meal is not eaten until the first star comes out in the evening sky. Although the meal is still pat of fasting, it is very happy. There are many symbols of Jesus’ birth in the meal. They have a white tablecloth to remind them of the cloth Jesus was wrapped in. They put hay on the table as a reminder that Jesus was born in a manger. There is a white candle at the center of the table to signify that Jesus is the light of the world. The meal starts with the Father saying grace, and then prayers for the coming year to be good. Then the mother blesses everyone there by making a cross on their forehead in honey. After the “Holy Supper” gifts are exchanged and everybody goes to church. The mass lasts all night, and there is lots of incense burned. The next day people go around town singing, visiting family, and eating and drinking. The Santa Claus of their traditions is Ded Moroz or Grandfather Frost. He is called this because Santa Claus comes from St. Nicholas, and since religion had been previously banned, this was the result. Grandfather Frost is the spirit of winter who brings gifts on New Years. He has an assistant named Snyegurochka, or the Snowmaiden. She helps hand out gifts. Christmas trees (called Yolkas) were another tradition banned after the revolution. Instead people decorated New Years trees. Since ornaments were too expensive the trees were decorated with homemade things and fruit. This all celebrated on January 7th.

Lastly, traditions from Italy. The Christmas season in Italy usually lasts from December 25th to January 6th. January 6th is the day of the Epiphany, which is the day when the wise men came to visit the baby Jesus. Although, some people begin the Christmas season on December 8th on the feast of the immaculate conception. In Italy, the gift giving part of the Holiday takes place on the Epiphany (January 6th) to symbolize that the wise men gave gifts to Jesus. The gift givng figure that replaces Santa in Italian culture is La Befana.  La Befana is a witch that rides around on her broomstick and puts gifts in the stockings of good children, and leaves a lump of coal for the bad ones.  According to legends, while the wise men were traveling to go see baby Jesus, they stopped for directions at La Befana’s shack. When they left, they invited her to come along but she refused, saying she was too busy. Later on, a shepherd who was also going to see Jesus invited her to see Jesus,  but she refused again. Later in the night, she saw the star in the sky that was leading people to the stable where Jesus was born. She finally decided to go see him. She took some gifts with her, that had once belonged to her son who had died, and set out. But she got lost and never found the baby Jesus. Now, La Befana flies around bringing gifts to children in hopes that one of them is Jesus. This gift giving day takes place on January 6th. But, giving gifts on Christmas day from Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) is growing in popularity. Although Christmas decorations in Italy have not been popular in past years, their popularity is growing. Trees and lights are common, but most decorations are centred around the presepe, or nativity scene. These are the main focus of decorating and can be very elaborate. Sometimes they don’t just focus on the manger scene, but can depict the whole village of Jesus’ birth.  For a Christmas meal, Italians traditionally eat no meat. In som3 parts of Italy they have what is called “A seven fish dinner”. This is a meal made up of seven seafood dishes. After the meal they go to midnight mass.

So, Christmas traditions can vary all around the world. The main things that are the same are gift giving, celebrating, and eating large meals. But, one thing that should always be central to Christmas is Jesus. Always remeber that Jesus is the reason for the season! Merry Christmas!

Image source: This Website

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My Animoto Video

December4

Hello everyone! My class has just started using this cool website called Animoto. It allows you to make really cool, proffesional looking videos. Here is my first one. Hope you enjoy!

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10 Words to make you sound Smart

November25

I have decided to make a post about complicated words that can make you sound smart. Whether you need them for a speech or just want to show off to your friends, these are fun.

1. Capricious (kuh-prish-uhs)

Impulsive, and unpredictable. Acts on a whim or impulse.  eg. The storm is capricious and we do not know where it will travel next.

2. Equivocate (ih-kwiv-uh-keyt)

to use uncleaqr statements to avoid something. To “beat around the bush” eg. When the boy broke a lamp, he was equivocate when telling his mother.

3.  Ubiquitous (yoo-bik-wi-tuhs)

Being everywhere at the same time.  eg. Samantha was so busy she was ubiquitous.

4. Egregious (ih-gree-juhs)

Exceptional or outstanding in a bad way. The student got an egregious amount of bad marks.

5.  Ambivalent (am-biv-uh-luhnt)

having mixed feelings about something, being uncertain, undecided between two totally opposite things.  eg. When asked to choose between two people, she was ambivalent.

6. Gratuitous (gruh-too-i-tuhs)

Without a reason, just because, uncalled for. eg. The girl’s shout was gratuitous.

7. Impediment (im-ped-uh-muhnt)

A problem, obstacle, annoyance, in the way. eg. The rainy weather was an impediment to the baseball game.

8. Frugal (froo-guhl)

A way of describing somone who doesn’t like spending money, cheap, thrifty,  saves money, won’t spend a lot. eg. She won’y eat at a fancy restaraunt because she is frugal.

9. Proliferate (pruh-lif-uh-reyt)

To get bigger, spread quickly, or increase rapidly. eg. The new trend was beggining to proliferate.

10. Gregarious (gri-gair-ee-uhs)

A way to describe someone who likes being around people, social, outgoing. eg. The boy was shy and not gregarious.

Image source:FlickrCC

 

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