Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition

Bootleg by Karen Blumenthal

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition Novel Guide

“Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition” by Karen Blumenthal

A captivating read on the era of Prohibition. Middle and high school kids love this book. The content is complex but presented in an explanatory manner that allows them to gain background information and ask further questions. It covers a range of important characters that had interesting points of view and additional involvement in other civil rights matters. It is a great starting point to discuss democracy and the law passing process with students. At the end, the Prohibition is a perfect example how in our country, people often disagree, still laws are passed and repealed in a peaceful manner, even though often they take time.

“Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition” by Karen Blumenthal is a type of book kids really hope to find in the classroom and library. I recommend getting more than one copy for the classroom. Kids like to take this book home and/or keep a copy in their desk until they finish.

Highly Recommended!

Happy Reading,

Mrs. Lena, M.E.d.

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and Lawless Years of Prohibition Novel Guide - Kren Blumenthal

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and Lawless Years of Prohibition Novel Guide – Kren Blumenthal

Grade Level 7-12
Curriculum Area: History, Social Studies
Genre: Nonfiction
Lexile Level: 1250L
ATOS Reading Leve: 9.1


Binary System Conversion – Lesson Plan

Binary System Conversion Lesson Plan

Binary System Conversion Lesson Plan

Here is the “ Binary System Conversion Lesson Plan” for all middle and high schoolers who are starting their computer science careers :). This is perfect for all kids who prefer visual explanations. The pack includes visual step by step conversions from binary to decimal and vice versa. The second part of the pack consists of practice worksheets. Conversion tables are provided for each question, as well as, the answer key.

Happy Teaching!

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

binary preview

Earth Day Lesson Plans

Earth Day and Spring perfectly overlap, and students greatly enjoy science resource texts. Stories are the best possible way to teach science to students of all ages. Despite the assumptions, a huge amount of science learning is integrated with language arts, at least by the great ones. Earth Day offers an ideal opportunity to teach and discuss how human actions effect the environment. Even though all the present hype with STEM tagets hands-on, there is no learning without actual reading for both background knowledge and additional research. Here are some awesome Earth Day books and lesson plans to go along:

"The Lorax" Lesson Plan; Earth Day Lesson Plan

“The Lorax” Lesson Plan; Earth Day Lesson Plan

1. “The Lorax by Dr. Suess is a must read for primary grades. Kids love Dr. Suess books, activities, movies, anything. Perfect Earth Day read and lesson.





The Giving Tree Lesson Plan

The Giving Tree Lesson Plan

2. The Giving Tree – Grades K-2 

“The Giving Tree” is a well loved book, for reasons that escape those with reason. It is not a story of giving and how wonderful it is to give. It’s a story about a boy who takes everything until there is nothing left. The message of non-renewable resources and importance of sustainability doesn’t escape. Super read on how not to be.



Heroes of the Environments Lesson Plan

Heroes of the Environments Lesson Plan

3. Heroes of the Environment – Upper Grades – Free Lesson Plan on TpT (Earth Day Lesson Plan Giveaway)  This is a great guided reading non-fiction common core text for students in older grades – upper elementary and middle school.
Happy Teaching! 




4. World Without Fish – lesson plan – Earth Day Non-Fiction Text

World Without Fish Novel Guide

World Without Fish Novel Guide


5. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam and Science of Ocean Motion– Non-Fiction Science Resource Text Lesson Plan

Tracking Trash Flotsam, Jetsam and the Science of Ocean Motion

Tracking Trash Lesson Plan


FREE” 5-Non-Negotiables to Help Your Child Succeed” – Booklet

5 Non-Negotiables in Helping Your Child Succeed

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When Books Arrive Too Late


This year, I finally feel content with the amount of books that I have in my classroom. It took many years and working at Title 1 school to receive a sufficient amount of books for my classroom library. I encourage reading. I allow my students to take books home. I hope that not only they enjoy their books, but that they also serve as a role model to their siblings and friends.

As I was unpacking numerous boxes of books this year, I realized that while the variety and quality of books I have in my classroom is amazing, for most of my students these books have simply arrived too late. By the time students enter 5th grade, they have set attitudes toward reading, and while these outlooks aren’t impossible to change, they aren’t easy to change.

In these first few days, I noticed that the bookcases are visited only when students are directed. Only a couple of students asked to take a book home. The enthusiasm just isn’t there as I was hoping. Now, the task of “selling” classroom books to my students is all on me.

Title I schools receive free books at every turn. We have the poorest students who need the most academic assistance. Still I can’t help but think how would have things been different if the same companies who send fee books to our Title I schools, have also sent books to my students at birth and consistently through pre-school age. The habits of reading and the “bank of knowledge” starts from birth, not in kindergarten or 5th grade.

I can’t help but thinking that these book donations, while great, have arrived too late to springboard children toward developing lifelong learning habits. Do you agree?

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

Learning Struggles and Kids

frog-1339897_960_720         In any given classroom, there is as many learning styles as there is students. There is really no silver bullet when it comes to instruction. Some teachers believe in their one method that “pushes” children and gets them to get their work done. They talk about effort and really put all the responsibility of results back on the students. So, if you put in effort and show grit, you will get As. If only that was so easy. If only students can be robots who effort every task and grit through it. We expect more of children than adults. Uh, so frustrating.
I teach smart students who have their areas of struggle (which really defines most students). A large number of my students have special needs. Most students with special needs are not labeled since they show sufficient progress (note that sufficient progress can be ridiculously minuscule). One common thread among all students who struggle in school is the short term memory weakness. I encourage students to take notes of procedures, which later serves as reference point. Often they forget to take notes, which is why they are given printed visual notes to keep in their binders.
To support student procedural memory, providing step-by- step visual models that students can use as a tool until they can complete the procedure on their own has been the most effective learning method across board. Procedural method, visually presented, can be used any time students need to complete more than 4 steps in sequence (long division, long multiplication, fractions, essay writing/editing, etc.)
I also teach a set of procedural questions that students should ask themselves when stuck. By internalizing critical thinking about problem solving, they eventually self-correct and persevere through algorithms and/or writing process.
Still one major element of their confusion is often stress of possible failure. Teaching students to relax, step back, think positive about tackling any problem, does wonders. In class we read “Frog’s Breathtaking Speech How Children (and Frogs) Can Use the Breath to Deal with Anxiety, Anger and Tension”.

Even though, the “Frog’s Breathtaking Speech” is a picture book, students recognized a little bit of themselves in Frog. At the end of the reading, we all picked the breathing technique. Stress alters memories and impedes learning/problem solving.

Teaching students to lessen their anxiety and fear of failure increases focus and content retention.

“Deep practice is built on a paradox: struggling in certain targeted ways- operating at the edges of your ability, where you make mistakes- makes you smarter. Or put it a slightly different way, experiences where, you’re forced to slow down, make errors and correct them – as you would if you were walking up an ice-covered hill, slipping and stumbling as you go, end up making you swift and graceful without you realizing it.” (Coyle, Daniel, 2009) Talent Code

The Real Story of Florida Charter

U.S. News & World Report published an article on Florida Charter Schools, claiming that “Florida Charter School Graduates Earn More”. Every educator and parent in Florida can tell you that simple common sense cannot hold such claim. First, most charters in Florida are K-8. Charter students who brave to return to traditional public school often fair poorly. The fact is, Florida Charter schools are deeply underfunded. Funding priority is given to school facility and corporate salaries, which leaves the actual school funding minimal.
The lack of funding affects all areas of Florida Charter life, from out-of- date textbooks, lack of technology in the classroom, limited electives, lack of special education staff, and the list goes on.
All things aside, even if parents don’t mind enrolling their children in an average Florida Charter school that has limited electives and resources, parents need to be aware of problematic disciplinary policies of Florida Charters. Florida Charter schools actually have more behavioral problems than traditional public schools, especially when it comes to middle school. The problem is the school’s conflict of interest between growing enrollment and potentially loosing students if proper disciplinary policies are carried out. As a result, Florida Charters are more likely to allow disciplinary issues to perpetuate in fear of losing student enrollment.
Finally, this unsubstantiated study, published by the U.S. News & World Report, is mere promotional material for Florida Charter, full of false claims and invalid research.While each charter school in the country is different, Florida Charter schools have a running theme of low funding and performance. Stanford study found that despite their growing popularity, though, Florida charter schools don’t perform as well as charters in other states, and as a result, Florida charter students are worse off than their traditional public school peers.

Read More:

“Florida Charter Schools Lagging, Study Says” Retrieved from:

“Florida gave about $70 million to Charter Schools that Later Closed: State Recouped Little”. Retrived from: