Category Archives: Unwanted

AFFL’s Island of Fire Silent Alphabet

Hello Fantasy Lovers,

Yesterday at our AFFL meeting we developed a game based on Lisa McMann’s newest Unwanteds book, The Island of Fire.

Here is a little introduction to what we were up to…

Here are the two groups signing their alphabets…

Now we do need your help, as you just saw both groups managed to get the message across the room and correctly transmitted to their team, so we need your help to decide who won the challenge.

The first groups seemed to be very fluid, but most of their letters seemed to be just making the letters with their hands.

Group two had some issues with talking and fluidity, but their alphabet was fairly original.

Who do you think won our Island of Fire Silent Alphabet Challenge?  Hit that comment button and let us know.


Read on,

Mr. H


Final T-Shirt Design and Next Read

Hello Fantasy Lovers,

Yesterday afternoon we finalized our T-shirt idea and passed out the order forms.  This being the final year of the AFFL we thought it might be cool to add each member name to the back of the shirt.  That does bring the cost up to $15, but I think it will look great.  I have attached the order form for anyone who was absent or anyone who might have misplaced it.

Remember the front will say AFFL where Jamestown High is and the back will be Anti Ferriter Fantasy League in orange and AFFL with signatures in white.

AFFL T shirt form 2013-14

We also talked about our next read and most agreed that it should be Unwanteds #3 The Island of Fire by Lisa McMann.  That book is scheduled for release on September 3, but you can read a sneak peek from Lisa McMann’s Website here.

Let me know if you have any questions and check back soon as our Princess and Frog videos are being processed… They are VERY funny.

Mr. H



The Unwanteds Spell Parade

Hello Fantasy Lovers,

Recently we finished The Island of Silence, the second book in The Unwanteds series by Lisa McMann.  As we were reading we came up with the idea of creating our own spell ideas, much like the students of Atrime do in the novel.  So here is a video with a parade of AFFL students and one AFFL teacher explaining their spells.

I personally thought the ending of Island of Silence was outstanding.  It was a perfect second novel in a series.  I am now eagerly awaiting the next installment, as I need to know what is going on with the island of silence, the weird neck barbed wire thing and what is going to happen to Artime.

I would love to hear some AFFL thoughts on the end of the book and some predictions for the next story.  Hit that comment button and let me know what you are thinking.

Mr. H

ps.  I think we might have found our next AFFL book.  Goblin Secrets by William Alexander just won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.  It looks right up our alley.

Holy Bat House Batman

Hello Fantasy Lovers,

Now that we are about a week into our October track out break, I thought I would share some progress on my track out projects.  I mentioned at our last meeting that I was going to attempt a Silverwing project with my daughter.

Check out the video introduction by my daughter.

The one picture with my head a little cut off what taken by my three year old son.

So the next step is for all of the AFFL members to sign the Bat House and then we will find an appropriate location to hang the house and hopefully fill the night sky around our school with bug eating bats.


We also talked about our next read at that last meeting.  Lisa McMann‘s sequel to The Unwanteds, called the Island of Silence was the overwhelming choice.  Over track out members were to try and obtain the book and get started reading.  They were also charged with taking either video or pictures of them reading the book in strange and wonderful places.

I decided to take some pictures at the NC Museum of Art.  The art in the park section of the museum is one of my favorite stops during our track out breaks.

Here are some pictures of the bat house and me reading Island of Silence at the art museum.

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I hope the break is going well for you all.

Read on,

Mr. H

Nerdy Book Club Post

Hello Fantasy Lovers,

The following is a copy of a post I wrote for the kid lit blog, The Nerdy Book Club.  It was a lot of fun to reflect on our AFFL reading group.  I am posting it here as well so folks can see the pictures I included, but didn’t make it on the Nerdy Book Club site.


I got an intimidating email in my in-box the other day. It was from Colby Sharp asking if I was interested in writing for the Nerdy Book Club blog. Now I had signed up to be considered for the guest blogging role, so I knew I might get tapped, but still being asked to write for a blog and community that I have always just lurked near was daunting.

I was asked to write a post for the tag “Pay it Forward.” I’m still not sure exactly want that means so I have spent the last few days thinking of how I would respond. My first thought went to my work with SMS Guys Read, a reading club I started nearly six years ago to champion boys reading and highlight the books that appeal to guys. I love working with my guys read club, but a digital friend of mine, Mr. Shaffer wrote both eloquently and elaborately on the subject of Guys Read and even gave our club and our Intercontinental Ballistic Reading Group a cool shout out.

So what was I to write about? After looking back over some older posts and thinking about what else I manage to do in the reading lives of my students and school I have decided to talk about my AFFL group. Even now, nearly a year since its inception that joke still gets me smiling… my AFFL (pronounced awful) reading group. Still funny.

So let me go back to the beginning and set the stage for you. I teach sixth grade social studies on an interdisciplinary team of four teachers. We teach the classic four core subjects of Language Arts, Science, Math and Social Studies. Even though I am the social studies teacher and not the traditional reading teacher, my love for children’s literature has pushed me to become more of a champion for reading on our team. I have pushed, I will say without much resistance, for the role of reading to be a shared responsibility and not just the focus of our language arts teacher on our team. We now each take a day of the week to have silent free reading session and do with the students what we will. That means that students on our team will have SSR in Math, LA, Science and SS once each week. It is now so ingrained in the minds of our teachers that we look forward to our SSR day as much as the students, sometimes maybe even more.

We also used this sharing of responsibility and the focus on championing reading from lots of points of view to the area of circulation and the media center. Normally the Language Arts teacher is the only instructor allowed in the media center for student’s circulation time. We decided to share the responsibility between the science and social studies teachers. Now both my science colleague and I had once taught language arts so we both felt comfortable in the role of sharing books, and wanted our student the experience to hear our thoughts on books and reading as well.

My science colleague is an old friend and we have playfully disagreed on my subjects over our teacher careers, but after we jumped head first into reading we found we had one gigantic reading difference. I told a student they should read Percy Jackson and The Lighting Thief, My science buddy over heard this advice and thought he might need to see what all the Percy Jackson fuss was about. He read the book and hated it. In fact he decided right then and there that he hated all fantasy books and went about telling any sixth grader within ear shot how bad fantasy stories were.  The battle lines on our team started to form.

This became a year of banter back and forth between us, him championing nonfiction and me championing fantasy. After one relatively heated confrontation about Colin Meloy’s Wildwood, I decided I need to something more than banter; I had to band all of our fantasy loving students together, so I formed the AFFL reading group. AFFL stands for the Anti F(our fantasy loathing teacher’s last name starts with F) Fantasy League. Our role was to champion fantasy reading and blow razz-berries and anyone who claimed fantasy was silly or dumb.

We started meeting once a week during our school’s enrichment time and started out reading Colin Meloy’s Wildwood. After reading and meeting for a few weeks, we actually decided that this was more than just a one off club and we need to become more of a permanent group. We then created a blog and started meeting regularly at lunch.

After Wildwood, we started reading the Unwanteds by Lisa McMann and started making videos to go along with our readings. Those videos were the highlight of our time together and really probably one of the reasons so many students kept coming around, even if that meant not eating in the lunch room with the other students.

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After a few videos, my flip camera started to die. The video sound kept coming out all fuzzy and I made a half joking comment asking if anyone would like to donate a new camera. Lisa McMann saw our videos about her book and responded that she would be willing to share a camera with us as well as some really fantastic sway from her great Unwanteds book. My AFFL students were over the moon. Not only had the author of this book we loved written to us, but she loved what we were doing and was willing to share cool stuff with us. Powerful!

We even asked Lisa McMann what we should read after The Unwanteds. She demanded (her words) that we read The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. After reading some of The False Prince and making more fun and fantastic videos Ms. Nielsen saw what we were up to and wrote us a very kind and incredibly powerful letter, she included with the letter some stones to go along with the plot of her fantastic story and some autographed stickers.

Three books read and two very powerful reading experiences met. We finished The False Prince right as our school year was ending, but we living the slightly strange world of year-round schools, so the end of last year was the end of June and we have already been back to school for about three weeks. As I see my now 7th grade AFFL members in the hallways they ask continually what is up with AFFL? So this school year we have made AFFL a legit after school club meeting twice a month. Our first meeting was last week and it was almost like a family reunion, even though we had only been gone a few weeks.

We have an author visit from Kenneth Oppel happening at the end of the month so AFFL will be reading his Silverwing novel and hopefully having a grand conversation with him and maybe some local bat experts. T-shirts are being planned and the members of AFFL are just as committed and excited about our group as they were when it first formed. In fact I now have to decide what to do with this year’s group of 6th graders. The word is out there that we have this AFFL reading group for students who love fantasy and current 6th graders are starting to ask me, “When can I join AFFL?” I think this AFFL group might have legs.

So what is my point in all of this rambling, really I think it boils down to championing reading wherever you can. Finding a hook and running with it.  I have found that middle school students crave the club setting and if structure the club around books and reading you can be successful with students.

I am lucky to teach in a school and on a team that love to read. I am lucky to have a friend who can push me on my love of fantasy and then handle me pushing back with a club named in his honor. I am truly honored to work with groups of students who love to read and are willing to give up their personal free time to meet with me and talk about books.

Read on,

Mr. H

More Paper Airplane Chaos and Our New Read

Hello Fantasy Lovers,

Today the AFFL met again at lunch, this time with prefolded paper airplanes and a desire to dramatically die if hit.

We also decided formally that we would read The False Prince by Jennifer Nielson.  The students thought the story sounded great and were impressed that we already had some contact with the author.  So we ordered 15 copies from Scholastic and eagerly await their arrival.

We would love to hear what you think of our chaos and if you have read any of our AFFL books.  Hit that comment button and let us know what you are thinking.

Work on your aim,

Mr. H

The Thank You Parade and Reading Question

Hello Fantasy Lovers,

Today at our lunch time AFFL meeting we created a Thank You parade for Lisa McMann who you may remember sent us a great box of goodies earlier this week.

This video is a small thank you note for making our week.

We also have an interesting question to pose to Lisa McMann that will possibly help guide our Fantasy League into the future.

We look forward to hearing some of you ideas.  We have thought about The Hobbit, Narnia and the Golden Compass.


Mr. H

Thanks Lisa McMann

Hello Fantasy Lovers,

A very exciting little box came in the mail yesterday.  This exciting little box contained a very gracious gift along with some great goodies.  the following video shows the excitement of our AFFL group as we unveil the gifts.

Thank you Mrs. McMann…you are too kind.

This video is just the beginning, we have talked about other videos we would like to make in the near future.  We will be sure to let you know when they are up and ready for all to see.

Stay Unwanted,

Mr. H

More Twitter Conversation with Lisa McMann

Hello Fantasy Lovers,

First do like Fantasy Lovers or Fantasy Leaguers?  I need to know so my opening line doesn’t sound too dumb.

Now onto the big news…

Defensive Skills – Folding

Hello Fantasy Lovers,

The AFFL is now nearing the end of The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann.  Most of us are right around page 300.

As I was reading the last few days I was struck by all of the defensive magic skills the students have been learning.  I love the idea of the using art to disable an enemy.  I really wanted to do some sort of defensive skill challenge in our meeting, but couldn’t quite figure how to do it effectively, and safely.

Then the brainstorm hit me.  I was reading about the students folding origami dragons and releasing them to varied success.  I could use that, but being horrible at origami myself I had to figure something else out.  I settled on paper airplanes.

Check out our video on defensive folding…

As you can see, we need loads of practice.  We will try again soon, so our dramatic members can share their dramatic death scenes!


Mr. H