Thursday, June 28, 2012

All Good Things Must Come to an End

Our program has come to the end and it's time to say goodbye. We have enjoyed learning together and appreciate the continued support from our district and families. We also encourage our students to have a relaxing break and to keep learning. Also, check out our Summer Learning Fun Links on our side bar. We will see you in a few weeks!

C. Alexander London Answers our Questions

Earlier this week we had the opportunity to talk to children's author, C. Alexander London. Our Skype call was cut short due to time limits and a bit of technical difficulties. As a result, we emailed him some questions we still had for him. Have a look at our interview below.

1. How old were you when you wrote your first book?
I was 8 when I wrote Lawrence & Luther Lizard go to Summer Camp. I also illustrated it. Luckily, my writing got better than my illustration and I started writing what would become my first published book (It's called One Day The Soldiers Came) when I was 21. It was not actually published for another six years, when I was 27. In total now, I've written two books of nonfiction for grown-ups, 4 novels in the Accidental Adventures series, a new series for young readers called Dog Tags that will be published in the Fall. Also a young adult novel. So I keep busy!

2. Where are you originally from?

I'm originally from Baltimore, Maryland, but I spent a semester in Berlin when I was 16. While In Berlin, I dyed my hair bright green because...well...I was 16.

3. Have any of your travels, trips, or places you have visited appeared in your books?
In some form or another, yes! In fact, I got the idea for the Accidental Adventures books while I was traveling. I've never actually been thrown out of an airplane or battled an angry Yeti, but I thought of the idea for the series while I was on a flight between Rangoon, Burma and Mumbai, India. In Rangoon, the capital of Burma, thousands of red-robbed monks were battling with hardened government soldiers, and I literally walked into the middle of it. Within days, the government had sealed off the country from outsiders, shut down the internet, and scrambled all foreign television stations. No CNN. No Cartoon Network. And I really missed it. Even though I was having the adventure of a lifetime, all I wanted was to be curled up on the couch at home watching TV. So it was on that flight as I left a country in upheaval that I first imagined Oliver and Celia Navel, who are doomed to have a life of adventure, when all they want is peace and quiet. They aren't just some kids I made up. They're me. And my older sister. Not exactly, of course. I've thrown in a good chunk of daydreaming. And my sister isn't nearly as bossy as Celia. Or so she tells me...

4. Has your pal, Baxter, appeared as a character in any of your books?
Yes. The poisonous lizard, Beverly, who appears in the Accidental Adventures books is based on him. And the dogs in the Dog Tags books are also inspired a bit by his behavior.

5. We think your take on adventure is very interesting. Is there an adventure from your childhood that you would like to share with us?

Ooh, that's a tough question. There are so many adventures in my childhood. In every childhood, really, but I guess I can tell you about one adventure that I didn't have. Behind my friend Adam's house, there was this concrete slab that covered some sort of underground opening in the side of a hill. We used to play all around it, and make up stories about what was in it. Some days it was an ancient tomb, other times it would lead to another dimension or creepy cave or a room filled with treasure. Sometimes there would ghosts on the other side. Sometimes we'd press our ears against it and hear their moans of agony. We'd run screaming and laughing, only to go back the next time I came over. It's not that we were merely playing make-believe. As we played, for a few brief moments every time, I, at least, really believed the stories we told each other. I think that kind of playing helped me to become a writer. I believe in stories, even when I know they are not, or cannot possibly be, true. But just because they aren't true, doesn't make them any less powerful. We felt real emotions and real excitement over the stories we played out around that concrete slab. We never did get it open for real. I am sure we would have been disappointed. The adventure was in not knowing. Like great explorers of old, it was in a blank place on the map that our adventure lived.

Student Showcase 2012

We had an excellent turn out for our Annual Student Showcase. Throughout the summer, students have been engaged in various activities to explore dreams for their futures. In addition to putting their academic skills to use, they have also been challenged to think creatively through their classroom projects. Have a look at some sample projects below.

iChallenge Song: "Today's Learners, Tomorrow's Leaders" 

Several students from our program performed our district's motto, "Today's Learners, Tomorrow's Leaders" under the guidance of Music teacher, James Dean. 

3rd Grade: I Dream of. . . 

3rd graders researched several famous figures across different fields. They also chose people who represented a field or area of their interest and dressed up in order to pose for their live wax museum exhibit after their presentation. Way to strike a pose, third graders! 

4th Grade: Poetic Expression 

4th graders shared some inspirational poetry about their dreams along with some advertisements that utilized different persuasion tools. We definitely gave them a poetic clap after their presentation! 

5th Grade: Actor's Studio 

5th graders displayed their hard work by acting out a skit of The Intrepid Gorilla that they composed during their language arts class. Students did an amazing job of bringing their scripts to life! 

6th Grade: We are the Future 

6th grade did a wonderful job of sharing their future plans and showcasing posters they made. 

7th Grade: Our Vision, Our Future 

7th graders did an excellent job of sharing their future plans and why they choose that path. They also shared vision boards they created in their language arts class. 


We want to thank our teachers and students for the amazing job that they did during their presentations and program. We also want to thank our parents, families, and HPSD faculty/staff for their continued support of our program. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dream Big Videos

These past few weeks our students have been working hard on their Dream Big Video Projects. Their task was to convey dreams for themselves, their families, their communities and/or their world with the help of Digital Storytelling. Students were in charge of writing their own scripts, finding images to support their message, and planning out scenes. Have a look at some sample projects below.


Dream Big Talks Through Skype

To motivate our students to dream big this summer, we had several Skype calls with expert speakers in our Tech Class. Our speakers shared their journeys and dreams with us and encouraged our students to think about their interests and strengths when planning for the future. They all offered very inspiring messages and even challenged us to start taking action! Have a look at the excellent line up of guest speakers below.

A. Lenise: Kouture Magazine 

A. Lenise began our chat with her journey in reaching for her dreams. She mentioned that achieving these dreams sometimes meant standing out from the crowd and pursuing opportunities that interested her. Her career in fashion is a fascinating one, and we were very impressed by all the celebrities she has worked with! 

To get a glimpse into the fashion world, visit:

Abdul-Rahman Muhammad, Dream Chaser #1: Dream Support Network 

Abdul-Rahman Muhammad began his discussion with some tips for achieving one's dreams, which starts with a dream list. This dream list should include both immediate and future dreams, but more importantly, a plan for how to go about making those dreams come true. Without a plan, you are a dreamer. Instead, you should aim to be a dream chaser, and eventually a dream catcher, who makes it happen! After his talk, Abdul had several of our students share their dreams and offered advice for them. 

To read more about Abdul's work check out The Dream Support Network.  

C. Alexander London, Children's Author 

C. Alexander London began his chat by introducing himself and his advisor/buddy, Baxter (his dog). He then shared his journey in becoming a writer and the struggles he had with finding interesting books to read as a kid. This ultimately is what inspired him to write for kids and share some very wacky adventures. 

To check out C. Alexander London's Series and work, visit:

We thank all of our guest speakers for taking the time to talk to us during our program and inspiring us to DREAM BIG. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

We are in the News!

Our iChallenge Academy was featured in the front page of today's Hattiesburg American. Have a look at the online version of the article here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Digital Storytelling 101

This week we learned about Digital Storytelling in our Tech Class. Digital storytelling is different from traditional storytelling in that you are able to utilize different tech tools to convey a message, tell a story, or explain a concept. Have a look a that video below to learn more about Digital Storytelling.

The great thing about Digital Storytelling is that it does not require a whole lot of equipment. All you need to get started is:

1. A computer
2. Video Editing Software
3. A microphone 
4. A digital camera or flip camera 
5. A Storyboard 

We are excited about taking part in our own Digital Storytelling Projects this summer. Our project will focus on the theme, Dream Big. Students have the option of narrating a story, sharing a poem or song, or acting out their dreams for themselves, their communities, or their world. Our students have worked very hard on their storyboards to help them map out their videos. Next week, we'll be putting all the pieces together by adding some pictures and footage. Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Introduction to Cyberspace & Cybersafety

Do you know what cyberspace is? Have you ever visited cyberspace?  If you have gone online or have used the Internet, you have been to cyberspace! Cyberspace is a great place to play games, meet new friends, and  learn new information. However, you should always be careful when you visit cyberspace in order to protect your identity.

In Tech Class, we learned some cybersafety tips to protect ourselves online. Click here to watch Garfield and Nermal's video about protecting your YAPPY.

Welcome to iChallenge!

This month HPSD is hosting the iChallenge Summer Enrichment Academy for students in grades third through seventh. This year's theme is Dream Big and students have participated in several hands-on and engaging activities in their classes. Have a look at all the learning that is going on at our Academy!