Red Carpet for Red Sun

Anyone who stepped into my shoes today would want to be a teacher.  After reading the book Under the Blood Red Sun two years ago with my middle schoolers, grades 6-8, we were treated to the recently released movie adaptation today.  Little did I know then that the book we had started to read in class would culminate in a transcontinental educational connection with an award winning author and a movie producer and countless more opportunities for learning to read, to write, and to become better people.

In March of 2013, we were reading the novel when- lo and behold!- a comment appeared from Dana Hankins, producer of the movie, on our blog.  I had no idea a movie was being made.  Somehow DanaHankins found our class blog, wrote us a comment, and then sent bookmarks from the upcoming movie to all the students.  She also got author Graham Salisbury to write us a comment, too.  By just reading and writing, we made a real-life connection with the author and producer, 4,600 miles away.  We had a literary tea party at the end of the school year, and quite a few kids dressed as characters from Under the Blood Red Sun.

During the next school year we watched the movie in progress via its web and Facebook pages.   I loved seeing the photos of Tomi’s house and the screenplay as compared to the novel.

At the end of 2014, we learned we had been nominated by our friends at Huzzah! in British Columbia, Canada, 3,000 miles away, for Best Class Blog.  Honored and humbled, we asked everyone on our email list to please vote for us, confonnit!  Again- lo and behold- Dana Hankins reached out to us and all her Facebook followers, asking them to vote for the classroom that had students dressing as Red Sun characters.  We re-established a connection, which grew to include a Skype visit next week.  We also received copies of the movie and a few more bookmarks.

Today, to celebrate all we have accomplished with our blog (connecting with Dana Hankins and Graham “Sandy” Salisbury at the top of the list), we held a Blogging Party, “Red Carpet for Red Sun”.  Celebrate for a few minutes with us!

What book would you like to see come to life on screen?  


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My Top Ten Inspiring People


Most of us have pretty routine days, which is great because they allow the special days to really be special!  Most of my day today was pretty ordinary.  Around 4:30 this afternoon, I sat down at the computer to do some very typical schoolwork.  That’s when my relatively ordinary day turned into something special.  When I checked my email, I found a note from Dana Hankins, the movie producer of Under the Blood Red Sun.  Suddenly, my run-of-the-mill day was not so run-of-the-mill.  Through our blog, we have made a connection with a movie producer, actors, and the author and screenplay writer, Graham Salisbury.  These people are taking the time to email, Tweet, blog, and now Skype with us as we share our experiences learning, reading and writing.

How many kids do you think have the opportunity to talk with authors and movie producers about books?  Are we not fantastically lucky that people in Hawaii are interested in what we are learning here in Florida?  Not only are they interested, but they want to HELP us LEARN MORE!  How great is that?

Dana Hankins inspires me!  Thank you, Dana!  Thank you for turning what could have been an ordinary classroom experience of reading and discussing a novel into a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me and my kids.


And with that, I have to now list nine more people who inspire me in my work.  They make the ordinary extraordinary.

9. Graham Salisbury, author of Under the Blood Red Sun and commenter on our blog!

8. Priscilla Cummings, author of Red Kayakthe first author who visited our classroom, and with whom I got to eat dinner

7. Joan Hiatt Harlowe, author of Thunder from the Sea and a resident of our hometown, Venice

6. Liz Lantigua, author of Mission Libertad who visited our school and related the work involved in publishing her first novel for young people

5. Fern Schumer Chapman who wrote Is it Night or Day? about her mother’s escape to America during the Holocaust and who Skyped with us

4. . Anjna Chouhan and Lisa Peter, the curators of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust who Skyped with us during our celebration of the Bard’s 450th birthday

3. Jan Smith, teacher extraordinaire and Huzzah! blogger

2. Sue Waters and Ronnie Burt, the Edublogs Support Team.  Without Sue and Ronnie, my kids and I would not be blogging because I would be lost in the technology.  Nobody does customer service like Edublogs.  Nobody.  Nowhere.

1. My KIDS!  Think of all the special times we share during our routine schooldays.  Last night I saw one of my former students at a New Year’s Eve party.  He said, “When I heard you were here, I had to come right over to see you.”  Now those were special words for a regular old language arts teacher to hear.   My kids inspire me every day.

Who or what inspires you?

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And the winner is…..Hey, Kids!


Here is the list of winners for Best Class Blog for 2014!  We are in the first place spot!  We won Best Class Blog *Student Challenge Winner* and we are so EXCITED!

Thank you to everyone who voted for us!  Thank you to Ms. Smith at Huzzah!  Thank you to the awesome Kids who work on this blog all year long!  Thank you to Edublogs for all the support you give us all year long.
Merry Christmas!  


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Please vote for us, Confonnit!

Hey Kids!

Do you remember reading Under the Blood Red Sun last year?  Do you remember the bookmarks we got from the movie producer, Dana Hankins?  Do you remember our Literary Tea Party and dressing up as characters from the novel?  Do you remember the author, Graham Salisbury, and the producer, Dana Hankins, commenting on our blog?  All very exciting moments for us!  Fortunately, the folks who made this movie remember how much we enjoyed the novel, and they have not only voted for our blog, but they have invited all their Facebook friends to vote for us as well!  Super cool, right?!


The movie is recently released on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Digital Downloads. We plan to watch the movie as part of our blogging party celebrating our 20,000th visitor! Time to roll out the red carpet for Under the Blood Red Sun!  Check out the trailer, too.

What do you think is the best part, and the hardest part, about making a movie?



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Hey Kids!

Look what I got in the mail!

The first postcards of summer!

The first postcards of summer!

It’s great to see you out in the world, learning new things and having fun.  Next week we are off to Cooperstown, and Teddy may come with us, so look for a post from him on his blog.  Also, check out the Under the Blood Red Sun Facebook page (with your parent’s permission).  You’ll find some photos of our Literary Tea Party!  Very neat.   

Keep up with your own blogs this summer.  Remember extra credit!  I’ve enjoyed reading the posts of those of you who have been writing the last couple of weeks.  Visit each other, and remember that some of our blogging buddies, especially those in the Southern Hemisphere, are still in school, so continue to keep in touch with them, too.

See you soon!


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Highlights of the Year

A highlight of the year: exchanging comments with Graham Salisbury, author of Under the Blood Red Sun, and movie producer Dana Hankins.

A highlight of the year: exchanging comments with Graham Salisbury, author of Under the Blood Red Sun, and movie producer Dana Hankins.

         Hey Kids!   The year is almost over. On Wednesday we’ll celebrate with our third blogging party to mark 100 visitors on all the students’ blogs.  We’ll finally connect with our #1 Blogging Buddy, Mrs. Chonody, who will regale us with tales of her travels.  Another highlight of the year was making contact with Dana Hankins, the producer of the Under the Blood-Red Sun movie, and then with author, Graham Salisbury.  I also appreciate all the posts, comments, and Skypes we shared with Ms. Smith and her Huzzahnians, almost half-way across the world in British Columbia, Canada.   Look through some of our older posts, pictures, and videos. What was the highlight of language arts for you this year?  

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Literary Tea Party

One of our language arts traditions is to celebrate the end of our academic year with a Literary Tea Party. Each student chooses a character from a book we have read and comes to class in costume. Some of us share refreshments that were mentioned in the stories. Characters who came to tea this year were from the novels: Under the Blood Red Sun, by Graham Salisbury (currently in the process of being made into a movie for release in April 2014); Elijah of Buxton, by Christopher Paul Curtis; The Shakespeare Stealer, by Gary Blackwood; Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix; and Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick. Guests also included characters from adaptations of Henry IV and Romeo and Juliet, by, of course, William Shakespeare.  

If you could be any character in a book, whom would you choose and why?

Literary Tea Party on PhotoPeach

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Under the Blood Red Sun webquest

The novel, Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury, introduced us to people, places and things with which we had very limited knowledge.  Through reading the book, we learned a bit more about: the attack on Pearl Harbor, World War II, Hawaii, Japanese culture, pigeon racing, and baseball in 1941.  Today we will increase our knowledge base even more as we delve into these areas via a webquest. 

Please answer these questions as a comment on this post.  This counts as a homework grade for all my kids, but we’d love to hear from people around the world, too.  Perhaps we’ll hear from someone who lived through World War II, or who lives in Japan or Hawaii. 


Photo Credit: thx563 via Compfight cc

Japanese Wallpaper

1. What song does Grampa sing on page 79? Listen to the song. Do you agree with Tomi’s description of it as the slowest song in history? What other record does the song hold? What does the song ask for Japan?

2. Grampa speaks Japanese frequently.  What does your name look and sound like in Japanese?

Photo Credit: janthepea via Compfight cc
Hawaii Kauai I - The myth is there

3. Mose and Rico are Portugese; Charlie is Hawaiian; Tomi and his family are Japanese; Billy is haole.  Hawaii is a melting pot.  Read this short history of Hawaii.   Briefly explain how Hawaii developed such a diverse population.  What other interesting piece of information did you read?

4. Mose and Rico plan to do their science project on volcanoes.  Watch this brief video from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  What did you learn? 

5. Check out the stats from the 1941 baseball season.  Which of Tomi’s favorite players won some type of accolade that year?  Who played in the World Series?  Who won?

6. Write a three sentence review of Under the Blood Red Sun.   Did you like it?  Why or why not.

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Student Blogging Challenges

Hey, Kids!

Kudos to Franklin, John, Cogan, and Hannah for completing the Blogging Challenge for week 1.  You kids chose interesting people and thought up very intriguing questions.  I was impressed!  

In light of the novel we are reading this month, Under the Blood Red Sun,  and in response to the Blogging Challenge from week 1, here is a letter written by an unnamed sailor from Pearl Harbor.   Think about what we have read/learned about the attack so far, and read this letter. 

Memories of Attack on Pearl Harbor, Richard Hall, Page 2 of 2

Photo Credit: Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections via Compfight cc

What questions would you ask this soldier? 

Here is the link to Blogging Challenge Week 2.  You have lots of options, but one is to write about something you are passionate about.  I’ll be working on this challenge, too!  Deadline is next Sunday.  Make sure you check out some of the blogs from other students around the world who are participating as well.  Have fun!  I’m looking forward to reading your posts.

Parade Magazine ran their annual “What People Earn” issue this week.  They included a 27-year-old blogger who makes $18,000 a year.  That could be you! 

What do you think are the pros and cons of blogging for a living?

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