Wednesday, June 1, 2016

On Your Mark, Get Set... READ!

We are pleased to present the W.C. Mepham High School Summer Reading Program. Summer should be filled with joyful times, and we hope that reading will be an important part of your child’s summer plans.

Students entering Grade 9 are required to read one of the books on the list. While all of the books on the list clearly have literary merit, some may be suitable for more mature students. Therefore, we urge you to carefully review the list and to help your son or daughter make a selection that is appropriate based upon his or her interests, age, reading level, and maturity. To assist students in making their book selections, the Mepham High School website will have short summaries on each book. Students who are having difficulty choosing a book should ask their teachers, a librarian, or the English Department Chairperson for help. All students will be assessed on their summer reading in September.

Students entering Grades 10 – 12 are required to read the book(s) listed below for the grade level they will enter in September. This approach to summer reading will enable students and teachers to start school with meaningful, focused discussions. The “common read” format will help to increase participation and create a community of readers on each grade level. Through whole class discussions and lessons, students will have the opportunity to thoroughly analyze the text and to exchange ideas and opinions. Additionally, the required text will add value to the summer reading assessment as a springboard exercise to the school year.

Please note, students entering Senior Experience and Advanced Placement English courses will also be given a writing assignment to complete over the summer. Assignments are up on the school's Website.

Enjoy the summer with a good book!
Incoming Ninth Grade (E1) 
Alexie, Sherman - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 
Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only Native American is the school mascot. While this book is not a graphic novel, it does contain several inspiring illustrations.
Defoe, Daniel - Robinson Crusoe 
In 1659, after becoming the sole survivor of a shipwreck, Englishman Robinson Crusoe lives on a deserted island for more than twenty-eight years.
Hoffman, Alice - Green Angel 
Haunted by grief and by her past after losing her family in a fire, fifteen-year-old Green retreats into her ruined garden as she struggles to survive emotionally and physically on her own.
Lupica, Mike - Million-Dollar Throw 
Eighth-grade star quarterback Nate Brodie's family is feeling the stress of the troubled economy, and Nate is frantic because his best friend Abby is going blind, so when he gets a chance to win a million dollars if he can complete a pass during the halftime of a New England Patriot's game, he is nearly overwhelmed by the pressure to succeed.
Murray, Liz - Breaking Night 
Liz Murray, who was homeless at the age of fifteen and had drug-addicted parents, reflects on how she overcame obstacles and eventually attended Harvard University.
Sixteen-year-old Jacob, having traveled to a remote island after a family tragedy, discovers an abandoned orphanage, and, after some investi-gating, he learns the children who lived there may have been dangerous and quarantined and may also still be alive.
Swanson, James L. - Chasing Lincoln’s Killer 
Recounts the twelve-day pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth, covering the chase through Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, with a discussion of Abraham Lincoln as a father, husband, and friend that examines the impact of his death on those close to him.
Incoming Tenth Grade (E2)
Salinger, J.D. – The Catcher in the Rye 
An adolescent boy, knowing he is about to be dropped by his school, spends three days and nights in New York City on a quest for self-discovery.
Incoming Eleventh Grade (E3) 
and Incoming Eleventh Grade Advanced Placement (11 AP Language)
O'Brien, Tim – The Things They Carried 
Related stories, linked by recurring characters and an interwoven plot, recreate an American foot soldier's experience in the Vietnam War.
Incoming Twelfth Grade (E4)
Gladwell, Malcolm – Outliers: The Story of Success 
The author explores why some people are high achievers and others are not, citing culture, family, and upbringing as possible reasons some people are not as successful as others.
Incoming Twelfth Grade Advanced Placement (12 AP Literature)
Foster, Thomas C. – How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Presents a discussion on how to understand symbolism in literature, discussing the appearance of journeys, eating, drowning, rain, violence, sex, illness, geography, Christ figures, and other signifiers, and how to see patterns the way literature professors do.
And one of the following:
The Awakening — Kate Chopin 
The Color Purple — Alice Walker 
The Handmaid’s Tale — Margaret Atwood 
Heart of Darkness — Joseph Conrad 
In the Time of Butterflies — Julia Alvarez  
Invisible Man — Ralph Ellison 
The Jungle  John Updike  
The Mayor of Casterbridge  Thomas Hardy  
Moby Dick — Herman Melville  
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man — James Joyce  
The Portrait of a Lady  Henry James  
Ragtime — E. L. Doctorow  
Reservation Blues  Sherman Alexie  
The Scarlet Letter  Nathaniel Hawthorne  
Sula  Toni Morrison  
The Sun Also Rises — Ernest Hemingway  
Their Eyes Were Watching God — Zora Neale Hurston  
Things Fall Apart — Chinua Achebe  
A Thousand Splendid Suns  Khaled Hosseini  
The Turn of the Screw — Henry James  
We Were the Mulvaneys  Joyce Carol Oates  
Wuthering Heights—Emily Bronte 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Be a Super Hero! Return Your Books!

Image source unknown - is it yours? Email me.

Monday, May 23, 2016

UPDATED: Spine Poetry

Come join us in the school library on Monday, May 23rd at 2:30 pm to participate in an afternoon of Spine Poetry. What is Spine Poetry, you ask? Well, you take the title of books which appear on the spine label and place them on top of each other to create poetry. When you have completed a poem, Ms. Stack will come around to take a photo of your poem. The photographs will then be displayed in the library and on this blog.

We got this idea from Jennifer Freedman at the Lindenhurst Middle School Library. Remember to always cite your sources! Here are some Google Photos of their Spine Poetry.

Everyone is invited to attend this ELITE event. Sign up here.

UPDATE: Spine Poetry was a ton of fun. We could have stayed all night creating and recreating poems from our bookshelves. Below are photos of some of the poems created from the titles of books.   

Friday, May 20, 2016 & Mrs. Joosten's 2nd Grade

I recently had the opportunity to hear Charles Best, a philanthropist and entrepreneur, who is the founder and CEO of, speak at a conference. is a crowdfunding platform for K-12 teachers serving in US schools. At the end of his keynote session, he gave each attendee a $30 gift card to use on the site to fund a project of our choosing. I selected Mrs. Joosten's 2nd grade class from the Ulysses Byas Elementary School in nearby Roosevelt, NY. Her students were in need a class set of carpet squares and a set of enjoyable books. I just received notification that this project is fully funded. Hooray! This project will reach 24 students who live in an extremely impoverished, underprivileged school district, not too far from Mepham High School.

This was my first experience with and I loved it! You get to pick from thousands of projects from school districts near and far. The person asking for the donation gives you a description of the student population and the project. On the site, you can see exactly where and how your donation is spent. To see the details for Mrs Joosten's request click here.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Online Student Portfolios

Why should we create an online student portfolio?

By the time students start thinking about where to apply to college, some of them have totally forgotten all the things that they have accomplished. In an effort not to leave any accomplishment, big or small off of their resumes, we decided to offer classes in creating online activity sheets. Many teachers took us up on this offer, most notably Freshman Seminar and several of our art classes.

Sample: Online Portfolio using Weebly
We began by having students create websites using Weebly. It's FREE, easy to use, and offers several templates. First we talked about what does a "good" website look like? Students scoured the web and shared websites that they thought were "good." We discussed what made those sites "good" and the following is what we came up with:
  • Appearance: Visual-appealing
  • Content: Informative
  • Functionality: Works quickly and correctly 
  • Usability: Easy to navigate, read, and understand
We then worked on a site map, and sketched out the different categories that could be included in an online student portfolios. This is what our students brainstormed:
  • Biography
  • Writing samples (best and showing progress)
  • Reflections
  • Artwork
  • Music
  • Athletics (highlight reels, stats, newspaper clippings, travel teams etc.)
  • Intramurals  
  • Clubs (offices, committees, activities, etc.)  
  • Hobbies (all activities outside of school)
  • Field trips
  • ELITE events (specific activities in our school)
  • School-wide events (blood drive, Battle of the Classes, So They Think They Can Dance, St. Baldrick's, Mr. Mepham, Open Mic Night, Talent Show, Multicultural Night, etc.) 
  • Community Service/Volunteerism
  • Awards (Student of the Month, Athlete of the Month, Intel, etc.)
  • Honor Societies
  • Contests
  • School concerts
  • Spring Arts
  • PTA 
  • Skills (computer, Photoshop, iMovie, etc.)
  • After-school/summer jobs
  •  Babysitting/dog walker
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Photographs
We considered what sources would need to be cited. Then we got started. Students had the remaining period to create their sites and include as much information under each tab as they could.

Why should we create an online student portfolio? Short answer: college applications and future employment. Online student portfolios have a BIG impact. All of your accomplishments are in one place. You can stand out from the competition. These websites highlight your personality and focus on you as a person.

Friday, April 22, 2016

MakerSpaces in Education

Thank you to the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School district, Long Island School Media Association (LISMA), and Mepham's Alumni Association for helping to finance our MakerSpace, because like the title of this video suggests, everyone is a maker, but not everyone has access.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Why do you write? This is the question posed down in the learning center on the bulletin board. You can add your own answer to the board by picking up a marker and adding it to the butcher block paper. The answers are varied and unique. Maybe one will speak to your soul. #whyiwrite
Bulletin Board in Learning Center