Tag Archives: chalone peaks middle school

Father’s Day Harvest

Your Daily Poem Editor Jayne Jaudon sometimes organizes her poetry publications around a theme. I sent her a rewritten mountain poem a few weeks ago. She liked it, but needed one more summery poem about tomatoes. I gave it a try and, though I am daughterless, felt a daughter’s voice would add to my effort, so I drafted the daughter of an old friend. Christina is now a parent herself, though I asked her teen incarnation to speak in Father’s Day Harvest. I hope it will offer a chuckle or two! https://www.yourdailypoem.com/listpoem.jsp?poem_id=4153

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Gold Delights!

From a pleased poet:

“Joaquin’s Gold  — what a delight! I am still relishing these stories, re-reading and enjoying them again. Before I began, I especially enjoyed knowing that your students inspired both your research and writing. Once reading, I wished I could have been in a class that read, discussed, and wrote reactions to these adventures. Each chapter’s title is an inspiration to read!”

Sheelagh from Idaho

Help me out a bit by viewing the instagram link to “Joaquin’s Gold”!


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The Civil War after Covid

Battle is joined.

Teachers and re-enactors created a dynamic civics classroom at San Lorenzo Park on May 20th. The students of Chalone Peaks Middle School participated with energy and intelligence. They emerged with experiences they’ll remember their entire lives, lessons about honor, sacrifice and the price of freedom for all.  

We began our day at King City Cemetery by honoring Civil War veterans buried there. Students read “Shiloh”, a great poem by Herman Melville. President Lincoln offered remarks about the difficult, crucial service the soldiers rendered. A rifle volley, a hymn played by Chris Andrew and taps ended our ceremony. We then marched on to battles, seminars and the Gettysburg Address.

Ed Haskell took great photos of the day. Please enjoy his work and the efforts of our young people.

Confederates march
Anxious Confederates
Union soldiers fire.
Cannons fire.
Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth share stories about the lives of slaves.
Lincoln gathers his thoughts before delivering the Gettysburg Address.
The battle continues.
Brother kills brother.
Lincoln’s words uplift.

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Pure Gold!

I’d like to share a review of “Joaquin’s Gold” by Canadian author and poet Mary Daurio:

“Joaquin’s Gold, by Robert Walton, is historical fiction wrapped up in an action-adventure envelope. A 19th-century historical character, Joaquin Murrieta, the famous bandit, is the central character in these eight stories that incorporate many legends of old California.

Joaquin is a bit of a conundrum. In one of the stories, a Mr. William Randolph Hearst said about him, “Wild, savage tales swirl about you, yet you are a gentleman.”*
Reading the stories, I felt this way as well.

The prose flows smoothly, and the author’s poetic bent shows up to the reader’s delight in some places. Here is an example from the story. The Wreck of the Annabelle Lee: “Gaslight burst bright from crystal chandeliers and turned linen tablecloths to fields of snow.” *
While as an adult, I enjoyed these stories; middle school children could read and appreciate them. Robert Walton wrote them to enhance his teaching at that level, and their warm reception prompted him to compile the tales together in this volume.

Any story can be read and understood on its own, but they form a cohesive unit that will open up the history of California and make it vibrant and very much alive. Something readers of any age can appreciate!”

Here’s the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Joaquins-Gold-other-Tales-California/dp/B09RTX6G3G/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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Joaquin’s Gold is now published!

Emily Schwartzman created this wonderful cover for the new book!

            Hidden gold, bloody bandits, vengeful miners, mad ghosts, shipwrecks, rattlesnakes— all these and more are to be found in my stories about Joaquin Murrieta. The individual stories have all been published separately and several have won contest awards. They are now published together for the first time as both a Kindle e-book and a paperback.

Set in Central Californian locations — what is now Pinnacles National Park, the Santa Lucia Mountains, Jolon, Old Mission San Antonio de Padua and San Francisco, among others — the stories blend 19th Century historical characters and events into the action. I’ve intentionally aligned the book’s content with California Social Studies Standards. Its readability is above 90% on the Flesch scale and varies between a 2.3 and 2.9 in grade level, so most young people should be comfortable reading the stories on their own. I also created classroom activities for all of these stories — now in use as part of the reading fluency program at Chalone Peaks Middle School — that are available on TPT.

            I’m proud to share this collection with you and hope it will open California history for you and yours.

Here’s the link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09RTX6G3G/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

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You Have One

When I write historical fiction, I always have middle school students in mind. “You Have One”, a recent short piece, seemed a good candidate for them. President Lincoln met with many ordinary Americans during his time in the White House and especially spent time seeking to ease the grief of those who had lost loved ones to the war. I’ve retold a Lincoln anecdote here in hopes of making it more accessible to students.  I’ve included pre-reading vocabulary activities, reciprocal teaching comprehension questions and post-reading activities for You Have One. It’s free on TPT. Please do let me know what you think of it.



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George Washington was no dummy!

Life mask of George Washington

President Washington published his Farewell Address on September 19th, 1796 in the American Daily Advertiser. He did so to decline a 3rd term as president prior to the upcoming election. Both James Monroe and Alexander Hamilton helped him compose this statement. Given recent events, it is as timely and important now as it was then.  It warns of party extremism, reminds us of our responsibilities to each other and calls on us to abide by our Constitution.  

             I created some activities to open this essential document to student unaccustomed to 18th Century prose. The lessons for each brief excerpt will include vocabulary, directed reading and reciprocal teaching activities as well as critical thinking and writing opportunities. The excerpted texts of the Address have a difficult Flesch-Kincaid reading level of 12th grade, hopefully mitigated by my work.

            I intended the first excerpt to be introductory in nature in hopes that it would help students acclimatize to President Washington’s voice. The second excerpt recounts his warning against party extremism. Subsequent excerpts will deal with the substantial content of Washington’s remarks. Please look for them on TPT. I’ll post more as I finish them.



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