NaNoWriMo is Coming

Hello Inkling Readers,

This post is mainly for you, but if you are a Guys Reader, please do not be scared away.

November is a wild ride under normal circumstances, you have the end of daylight saving time, election day, Veteran’s Day and then Thanksgiving.  Plus lovely autumn leaves and great crisp weather, at least in the south.  Now to add to that wild ride I propose NaNoWriMo!

For the last three years I have participated in NaNoWriMo and I plan to try again this year.

If you are interested I would love to hear some feedback from my first few attempts…

WIP 2012

WIP 2013

WIP 2014 1

WIP stands for writing in progress and just so you know the 2014 story is not quite finished.  I made it to the magic number of 50,000 words, but the story still needs a climax and resolution.

This year I will be breaking away from this trilogy and writing a stand alone story.  I have a few story ideas cooking and I would love to have you help me choose the story I will write.

  1. The Diet of Worms – Or How To Make A 8th Grade Super Group – The story of a group of 8th graders who start a rock band and become something of a big deal in their suburban town.
  2. Shadow Tails – The story of Macadamia “Mac” Bush a former secret service agent assigned to the president’s detail.  He saves the president’s life but looses a hand and is forced to retire.  He is pulled back into the Washington world to help find the kidnapped president.  By the way all of the main characters are animals, mostly squirrels.
  3. Velo City – Steam Punk story about an orphan who grows up in the shady underground world of a future/past city.  He is a steam pipe racer and conscripted into the royal marines to help break an alien blockade of the earth.

Do any of these ideas spark your interest?  What story would you like to read.  You tell me in the vote below and I will share my work as we move through the month.

I would love some of our Inklings to join me in writing a novel this month.  I have 50,000 words to write, but don’t worry the Young Writer Program allows you to choose your own word goal.

Write on,

Mr. H



Secret Coders is Coming!

Hello Readers,

Remember that today is the day that our next big read, Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes is released.

We are super excited over here at the 6th Grade Chapter of SMS Guys Read as Mr. Yang will be visiting our local indie bookstore tomorrow!!!

We are hoping to have a big group of SMS Guys Readers in attendance, so don’t forget to get in your parent’s ears…. Quail Ridge Books, 7:00 PM, Wednesday September 30.

While we have been waiting for the book to come out and Mr. Yang’s visit, we started checking out the new Secret Coder website and trying some Logo programming.  I am trying to get SMS Guys Read coded and am having some difficulty.  Programming is hard!

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We continue to try Logo Programming today at lunch and look forward to getting our hands, and hopefully Mr. Yang’s signature, on our books tomorrow.

Read (and code) on,

Mr. H

Secret Coders

Hello Readers,

The 6th Grade Chapter of SMS Guys Read is excited to finally get their hands on the new book, Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes.

Remember the book comes out on Tuesday September 29 and Mr. Yang will be talking about it at Quail Ridge Books on Wednesday September 30 at 7:00.  Make sure you are talking with your parents about joining for the visit.

imageToday we introduced the lads to the Secret Coders website and watched the first video on learning to code.  Next week will spend our lunch time on Monday and Tuesday practicing some Logo coding.

While you are waiting why not take a few minutes and read this Secret Coder short.

Read (and code) on,

Mr. H

Iron Trial Knife Shaping

Hello Readers,

Yesterday afternoon the 7th/8th Grade Chapter of SMS Guys Read attacked my classroom armed with tagboard, colored tape and chopsticks.  The goal for this strange assortment of items was a paper knife based on Seriramis from The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.  We have been enjoying the story of Call and his problems at the Magisterium.  The knife that his mother shaped when she was a student at the Magisterium struck us as interesting.

So to start our reading challenge we took the elemental test found on the homepage of Scholastic’s Iron Trial page.  Most of us got the earth element the first time through, but being 7th and 8th graders the lads took the test until they managed to find their path to Chaos…. you know as boys will do.

With an element as a guide the guys started shaping their blades.

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Unfortunately our hour long meeting was not enough to fully complete our blades, so check back soon as these Iron Trial inspired paper blades find their final forms.

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Read on,

Mr. H

NC Ghost Stories and Mountain Speak

Hello Readers,

Today’s Inkling meeting starts to brings to an end our focus on Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty.  I know many of you have not had a chance to read this great story, but remember he will be at Quail Ridge Books on Saturday, so you might be able to snag a copy there, and get a cool autograph.

For our final two meetings before track out I would like you to think about one of the following activities to work with.

  1. Spend some time working on your Serafina Art Contest project.  Remember the contest runs until November 15, 2015. (I have a cool pottery idea in production.)  Think about how you will share your work with The Inklings as well as how you will submit it to the contest.
  2. Work on the Serafina Riddle Contest.
  3. In Serafina and the Black Cloak, both Serafina and her father use some interesting vocabulary.  Some might call their work usage choices Mountain Speech.  Spend some time reading about NC mountain speech and then write a short story or dialog using some of the interesting vocabulary from the website. Use the comment tool to share you work.
  4. Serafina and the Black Cloak is not a true ghost story, but it certainly has the elements of a good old-fashioned horror story.  Spend some time reading up on some other ghost stories from around the NC world.  Report out on your favorite tale (comment tool), or the one that will keep you up tonight.

Our next read will be The Map To Everywhere by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis, who also live in the great state of NC!  The book is available from Scholastic for only $6 and I have some great reading challenge idea swirling around in my head.  Cinder will most likely come after The Map To Everywhere for those of you interested in that read.

Read on,

Mr. H

T-Shirts…. The Results

Hello Readers,

I am pleased to announce, after a very spirited voting season, that we now have the winning T-Shirt ideas for both The Inklings and Guys Read.

So with 34.24%, just edging out the second place idea, this is our 2015 Inklings T-Shirt.

Remember the shirt will say Inklings where it now says Journalism and in the ink pot it will say Salem Middle School.  The final cost will depend on how many orders we make, but it will most likely be somewhere around $13 per shirt.

The Guys Read Shirt was not nearly as close, or exciting.  The winning shirt will be…

This shirt will say Salem Middle School above the line and then Guys Read below the line to the right.

Voting is now closed, so I hope you are happy with democracy and will enjoy the final choices.

Order forms will come out soon and the shirts will be ordered shortly, hopefully so we can have them when Track 4 returns at the end of October.

Read on,

Mr. H

The Twist

Hello Readers,

As you may, or may not know, the 6th Grade Chapter of SMS Guys Read is currently reading Tom Angleberger’s classic The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.


If you have the new white cover version of that book than you may have noticed the discussion questions and activities that some smart fellow added in the back.  We here at SMS Guys Read are dutifully fulfilling the tasks laid out in the appendix.


Today we bring you The Twist…

So how did we do?  Do you think your book club, or school could do better?  Would you do The Twist at your middle school dance.  We need answers to these questions!

Check back soon as we continue the activities list with some English playwright head sculpting.

Read on, Mr. H

Serafina and the Black Cloak: Art Project video

In The Inklings Book Club we have been reading, and talking about Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty.  One of the things we have been looking into are the art and riddle contests that Mr. Beatty set up.

The Serafina Art Contest is coming up, and my friend Aidan and I wanted to try to do  something to enter into the contest. The contest is meant for kids, teens, and even adults to enter their art work and win a cash prize. If Aidan and I win, we will receive a prize of 1000 dollars (I’m not saying we’ll win). For adults, the prize is $3000, for teens it’s $1000, and for kids it’s $500.  So this is our 1000 dollar idea.

This video is a remake of the scene in the book when Serafina is catching rats one night, and stumbles upon the “black cloak” feeding himself the soul of a young girl. Serafina then wakes up and describes the happening to her father and answers one of his questions with an answer related to the Biltmore estate’s signature commercial lines.


Read On,

Sean and Aidan, the kids from Guys Read and Inklings


The Guys Read Iron Trial Entrance Exam

Hello Readers,

Yesterday we held our second 7th/8th Grade Guys Read Chapter Meeting of this school year.  At this meeting we got into our first read, The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

We started by reading from the Prologue, introducing Semiramis the dagger and the terror of losing friends and family.  Semiramis will become our next reading challenge as the lads prepare to design and build a paper knife at our next meeting.  Who knows they may sleep with their blades the way Call did his first night at the Magisterium?

After our introduction work we started talking about the Magisterium and how Call had been coached for his entire twelve years of life to fail the entrance exam… spectacularly if at all possible.  This got me thinking about a Guys Read version of the entrance exam.  So why not take a look at our five question entrance exam and how we did?

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The Guys Read Iron Trial

At the end of the video we hint at a few extra credit opportunities, so challenge yourself… can you answer them?

  1. Find the sum of -7 through 800?
  2. Old McDonald had a farm.  What happened to his farm since it says “had a farm?” Explain Deeply.
  3. If an earth mage uses dragon scales to make tea and a fire mage uses lichens to heat the tea, when does a dragon kill everyone in the city where the mages live?
  4. If a golem, composed of admantine, shatters a warven craftsman and embeds the shards with fire stone, how many standard size hammers can he make?
  5. Do you know the muffin man?
  6. A dragon flies at 45 mph, but the goblin runs at 50 mph.  The dragon is 20 miles ahead of the goblin in 2 hours.  What potion did the dragon take to get the boost?

Challenging I know!

So check back soon as the 7th/8th Grade guys build knives, carve ice and read deeper into The Iron Trial.

Read on,

Mr. H