The Death Cure – James Dashner

the death cureReading level: 5
Series: The Maze Runner Book 3
Genre: Dystopian
ELL-Friendly: Yes (mostly)
Library recommendation: Middle school

Goodreads summary:

Thomas knows that Wicked can’t be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they’ve collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It’s up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test.

What Wicked doesn’t know is that something’s happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can’t believe a word of what Wicked says.

Well this series was basically a bust for me. The Maze Runner was pretty good, but it all went downhill from there. I’m not even sure why I’m making a blog post because I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been mentioned in any of the other posts regarding the series.

I will, however, complain a little bit. I said in my post about The Scorch Trials that the only reason I read the final book in the trilogy was because I wanted answers. Those answers didn’t come. For example, I still know very little about WICKED, Thomas’ past, and how the rest of the humans were coping with the state of the world. Bah.

At the end, the chancellor of WICKED says “WICKED is good.” And obviously it ISN’T if it’s basically torturing people WHEN THERE WAS A FAIL-SAFE ALTERNATIVE THE WHOLE TIME.

I kept waiting for Brenda to have a purpose. Aaaand she didn’t.

But, the one part that did get me right in the feels was the death of Newt. I had come to rather like this character (which is difficult seeing as most characters were so flat), but I admit that a great deal of my interest in this character came from his accent, which the narrator of the audiobook really performed well.

I’m glad it’s over. Thoughts?

The Scorch Trials – James Dashner

scorch trialsReading level: 5
Series: The Maze Runner Book 2
Genre: Dystopian
ELL-Friendly: Yes (mostly)
Library recommendation: Middle school

Goodreads summary:

Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.

The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

I wasn’t too terribly impressed by the first book of the series: The Maze Runner. The premise is very interesting, but I remember it being sort of slow. It has all the makings of being a suspenseful novel, but I feel like the excitement was squashed by dragging the story out too much (which is precisely what happened in The Scorch Trials). However, I then read the prequil, The Kill Order (which I thought was pretty lousy), and am on to reading the third book of the series after having finished The Scorch Trials. What keeps me going? I want answers. Plain and simple. I want to know what the heck is up with WICKED, how these “trials” will do anything to help the human race, and what the plan was all along.

After reading through some goodreads comments, I am better able to pinpoint something I really didn’t like about the first two books – Thomas. He’s just a blah character. Sorry, buddy, but I just don’t care about you. 😦

I have no idea what point Brenda’s character had. The whole romantic thing she had with Thomas seemed not only creepy and out of nowhere but just unnecessary to the plot line. I think Dashner was trying to create a love triangle, maybe? Anyway, it didn’t work. Too bad his female characters (all two of them) are either betrayers or crazy lovers.

There are creatively-used vocabulary (crank, shuck), which may be difficult for ELLs, but if they’ve gotten through The Maze Runner, then this book will be easier.

While I do recommend this book primarily for middle school, it’s also okay for high school, except the reading level is fairly low. I also think this series has the potential to really grip young readers, especially boys. Not being a middle school boy myself, I’m unable to confirm this statement.

Educational Grants and Resources

Edutopia has compiled “The Big List of Educational Grants and Services.” The link may or may not remain active as the page is updated, so try searching the title of the link if it doesn’t work.

Map Outlines

WorldAtlas is a website that offers map outlines, perfect for geography and map quizzes.

5 Ways to Get Students to Listen

Edutopia published this helpful article about 5 tips to get students to be better listeners.

I particularly liked the tip to “ask three, then ask me” so that students get in the habit of using each other as resources rather than running to the teacher.

I also liked the bit about having one student in each pair talk while the other actively listens and must respond with a comment or question only after the first person is done. It’s a good way to teach the skill of listening. I think there’s a NSRF protocol like this…

Organizing for Evaluations

When preparing to be evaluated (or when getting ready for the ProCert/National Boards), list all the criteria you’ll be assessed on and make a file for each part. As you teach and the year progresses, put copies of student work and other pieces of evidence (photographs, notes, etc.) into the appropriate file.

Rubrics and Standards-Based Grading

For assignments that are graded based on standards and a rubric, the rubric may have 5 sections:

  • 5 = above standard
  • 4.4 = standard is met
  • 3.7 = reaching towards standard
  • 3 = standard not met
  • 2.5 = standard not attempted

The reasons for the numbers is to translate from standards-based grading to percentages/letter grading:

  • 5/5 = 100% = A
  • 4.4/5 = 88% = B
  • 3.7/5 = 74% = C
  • 3/5 = 60% = D
  • 2.5 = 50% = F

Missing = 0 until the student turns in the assignment. If the student doesn’t turn the work in, it gets a 2.5 The reason for giving the student 50% is so that the grade is still failing, and the student cannot continue not turning in work if he or she wishes to pass. However, giving points means that just a few missing assignments won’t destroy a student’s grade and give him or her no chance at raising it enough to pass.

Incomplete = whatever grade the student earns based on the rubric. Then, give the assignment back with a chance to increase the grade. If it’s not turned back in, the grade will stay as is.

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