Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The class is thoroughly enjoying the book I am reading to them called, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick. Here is how the book begins with a short introduction:

and then there are pages of pictures drawn by the author in a silent movie style format! Just like this:

Besides the wonderful myserious characters, we are introduced to magic, train crashes, the early days of film making, clock repair, and robotic figures called automatons. While the book is fictional, these events and historical pieces are real. We also learn that one character was a real historical figure.

We are nearing the conclusion of the story. On Friday we watched a copy of Georges Melies' "A Trip to the Moon" with  almost as much awe as Hugo's father would have had when he mentioned viewing the  movie to his son. Here is another version with a narrator reading from the actual script that Georges Meilias wrote to be read along with the film.

Here is a Scholastic quick video book talk.

Here is a post with links that I wrote last year about the book and another post with a few interesting videos that I made in 2009. I enjoy and learn more about the book each time that I read it.

Other resources:
Brian Selznick gives the inside story of "The Invention of Hugo Cabret."
Brian Selznick Answers Readers Questions Now someone has to look for those hidden initials!

Here is a photo of the Paris Train Crash at the Montparnasse train station in Paris, France in 1895.

The train crash is mentioned in "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" along with an illustration. Gare Montparnasse is the train station that comprises much of the setting for the story.

When my son, Andrew was a little guy, he loved "Thomas the Tank Engine". I haven't had to watch this show or  read the books, again and again, for many years, but I recall that this famous accident was the inspiration for one Thomas video, "A Better View for Gordon." If you don't want to watch the whole episode, you can scroll ahead to the 3:00 mark. Enjoy!

There are also a couple of real life replicas of the train wreck  in Brazil.

Here is a wonderfully creepy video of many different automata. Most of these automata were made in France in the middle years of the 1800's. As the video says, "They were a miracle of home entertainment. 3-dimentional movement before even 2-dimensional film had been invented."

It occurs to me as I watch this video and listen to the narrator say this, of automata, ""There hearts are not hearts, but clockwork springs. Their lungs not lungs, but leather bellows." that the automaton in the book is not the only character like this in the story. Hugo "fixes" the broken automaton, but he wanders through the station like an automaton himself fixing the clocks as this is his task in life. Hugo is a character who has suffered loss and has lost his heart and is in need of repair. The author often refers to the cogs and wheels in Hugo's head. Another character who has lost his "heart" and is going through the motions in the toy store is Papa Georges. As Hugo fixes the mysterious automata, he also unlocks clues to other mysteries that help him find his own heart as well as the heart of Papa Georges bringing both of these characters back to life. That is a fitting end to a story that brings many "lost" events back to our recollections.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Do dogs dream?

This week we are reading a story called "Faith and Eddie." Eddie is a dog as well as the narrator of the story. Faith is a girl, who is lonely in a new school. She plays with Eddie a lot and throws sticks for him to retrieve. Eddie loves the game. He was obsessed. He was dogged. Retrieving the stick was all he could think about. He loved playing fetch and was manic about playing. He would wait for hours by the door with a stick in his mouth waiting for Faith to come home so he could play fetch.

Eddie even went to sleep with a stick in his mouth just in case Faith woke up and wanted to play catch. Then he began having nightmares about playing fetch. The stick would avoid him when he tried to catch it or would never come down when Faith threw it up in the air. Poor Eddies dreams were ruining the fun of a simple doggy game.

So I asked the question to the class, "Do dogs dream?" Some of them had stories about what their dogs did in their sleep, but I think this video showing a dog named Biskit answers the question quite clearly.

Monday, September 13, 2010

21st Century Classrooms at New Searles Elementary School

The students and teachers at New Searles Elementary School are fortunate and privileged to be awarded this technology grant. (Nashua Telegraph article here)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Magic Squares

Today the class did a little work with Magic Squares in math class and the students became really interested in these puzzles that were a favorite of Benjamin Franklin.

 Here is a famous piece of art by the 16th century German artist and mathametician Albrecht Dürer. It is called Melancholia I and also shows an 8-faced solid and a jumble of scientific instruments surrounding two angels deep in sadness or thought. Can you find the magic square? It was created by Durer in 1514. Do you see how he included the date on the magic square?

You will find a bunch of magic square puzzles to solve on these printable pages.
Here is a bit on the history of Magic Squares.