Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reading and challenges and reading challenges

I love to read. I've often said that I am one of the luckiest people around to find a job where my skills are in play - a love of books, understanding of technology integrations and a dash of nerdiness. Unfortunately, my job will be changing a bit next year - reassignment within the school - but that does not mean I cannot keep up with some of my loves.

I recently completed the Hub Reading Challenge. It was a joy and a pleasure to be a participant in this challenge and opened my eyes (literally I guess!) to so many books. For this challenge you had to read or listen to 25 books taken from the YALSA award list. The list can be found here. I had read several of the books previous to the challenge and had read all the Non-Fiction and Morris nominated books for a separate challenge. The ones I'd read independently I had to reread - the Non-Fiction and Morris nominated ones counted towards my list. I am waiting for some to come back from students to reread, but that's just icing on the cake - I have my 25 (28 actually, 30 if you count my reading some that were supposed to be audio books!). I read the following (goodreads list):
  1. Love and Other Perishable Items
  2. The Miseducation of Cameron Post
  3. After the Snow
  4. Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
  5. We've Got a Job: The 1962 Birmingham Children's March
  6. Wonder Show
  7. Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thoughts Different
  8. Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
  9. Seraphina
  10. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster
  11. Prom and Prejudice
  12. My Friend Dahmer
  13. Every Day
  14. In Darkness
  15. Enchanted
  16. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  17. The Name of the Star
  18. The Fault in our Stars
  19. The Diviners
  20. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 1
  21. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  22. Where'd You Go, Bernadette
  23. I Hunt Killers
  24. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb
  25. Code Name Verity
  26. October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
  27. The Running Dream
  28. Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am

If you go to my goodreads list it will link you to the covers, author names and general reviews by those who have read the books. If I can I will be trying to read seven more before the deadline (June 22nd). Some of these will be easy - there's at least three on the list that I just need to get back. Others I might have to pick up - worth it for a good book!

I've committed myself to the Nerdy Book Club Fifth Annual #bookaday Challenge. One book for every day of the summer. I can do it! 73 books in 73 days is not a bad thing. Some will be rereads but sounds like it's about the pace I read anyway!

At this point, I won't be a librarian next year. But that doesn't mean I can't continue my loud librarian ways. Resource units, book resources, reading challanges - it's all still part of being an educator! The challenge will be, of course, finding the time to continue what I do as a full time job, while I do a different full time job. I suspect I'll be the teacher who goes to the library with her classes the most!

And to end, my new lego minifig. If only this girl had bright red hair!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review: 'See you at Harry's' by Jo Knowles

See You at Harry'sI had planned for ages to read 'See You at Harry's'. One of those books that kept coming up in my twitter feed and in scholastic orders, I planned to pick it up, but kept putting it off. Finally, I've read it. And I'm still thinking about it.

'See you at Harry's' is the story of twelve year old Fern. She's got a crazy family - as so often happens in Young Adult literature. Her Family are the owners of 'Harry's' a family ice cream restaurant. Ferns dad is always trying to find ways to boost business, her mom just wants to go off and meditate, her sister Sara is busy finding ways to not work, her brother Holden has a secret and a new friend. And there's Charlie - her younger brother and the three year old center of the universe. Fern is always trying to find time to be herself and to not be lost in this big, crazy family. While her friend Ran keeps saying "all will be well", Fern has not yet found evidence to support this calming mantra. She believes it when Ran says it - but then returns home and finds the chaos that surrounds her. And then it happens and the world is forever changed.

So, what is it? I can't say. It will ruin things for you. But it is what gripped me. I could picture this family - picture the three year old little boy saying 'See you at Hawee's' in the inane family commercial the dad made them film. I can see the conversations between Holden and Fern discussing his secret life. I can feel the trepidation of Fern as she enters High School. This family is well drawn and through that, drew me into their pain when it happens. Knowles went there and I wish I'd known that (I should have stopped wanting to read the book and instead read about the book). This book examines the feelings that each family member has when a major event happens to them and does so in a realistic manner - grief, guilt, forgiveness, blaming - it's all there. This is a realistic story of a girl who is trying to find her place and what happens to her and her family during this time.

If you're easily upset, read some reviews that give spoilers.

Goodreads Page

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sections of my library

A question that comes up quite often in my Professional Learning Community is this: where do you put book x? Book x of course being their example and not a book with the title X. It's always interesting to see how many different answers people will give.
At my school library I'm not dealing with a large collection - around 5000 books at most. I have a large room but it must house a number of things, including tables, computers, shelving, circulation desk, a photocopier and a Steinway grand. Yes, there is a grand piano in my library. My library looks out at the courtyard. It's a lovely space.
It is also naturally divided into two sections. People can use it as one whole room and spread out or two groups can use it at once. I've used that division to help organize the books - fiction on one side and non-fiction and specialized on the other side.
My fiction is divided. I have series fiction, graphic novels and then fiction. Not all of the graphic novels are fiction but I didn't want to lose them in the non-fiction. I use letters on the spine labels to designate each section - S FIC XXX is a series novel, G FIC XXX or G ###.## XXX is a graphic novel and then just FIC XXX for regular fiction. I was finding that a number of kids wanted to read series but had a hard time finding them in the shelves when they weren't separate. Part of this was a shelving issue - sometimes they wouldn't be together on the shelf: one might be at the start of that alphabetical section while the other could be 3/4 of the way through. I need to take on the project of labeling - designating different subsections and areas of interest (LGBTQ, Fantasy, etc). I then have a "New" display and display novels that are newer there. I try to slowly put them out so there's always a supply of them, no matter how my budget looks at that point.
My non-fiction is fairly straightforward. I use Dewey and go from 001 to 999. Then I skip a shelf and have my languages section - French and Spanish mostly and a mix of fiction and non. Those are designated with a FR FIC XXX or FR ###.## XXX. Then another shelf is skipped and I have Holocaust related materials - we do a lot of work with the Holocaust. And then my reference section, which is small. I have a set each of English, Spanish and French encyclopedias as well as some tomes that are more reference like.
The last section in the library is one I keep having to rehome. Right now a lot of it is on carts. It's my local literature section - books, both fiction and non from Newfoundland and Labrador. This is one section that I've not weeded - it's got some old books which aren't in print any more. I really need to sort this one out - I'm out of room where it is so I may need to return it to the section from whence it came - a cubby on the fiction side.
Every library is different - that's mine!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Options for Projects

To go along with the 'Reading for Choice' program, at least one of the teachers is giving a lot of choices in what they can do as their assignments. Here are some of the options:

1. Live tweeting. Twitter is a 140 character-at-a-time way to share your thoughts with the world. I did a live twitter feed of 'The Hunger Games', which you can find here. Shows you know the book, the characters and how to answer a question without retelling the story.
What do you need? Internet connection, a twitter account specific to this project. Free.

2. Popplet. Popplet is a webbing and organizational website. It allows you to post topics, pictures, video and web them all together. It allows you to present a topic, show similarities and differences and illustrate it with appropriate images.You can also save it and put it on a website.
What do you need? Internet connection or downloaded app, free account (free for the first five popplets).

3. Book Trailers. Much like a movie, a book can be promoted with a trailer. There are lots of video programs to build this, but I like the app iMovie. It has trailer templates which walk you through the storyboard and allow you to pick different themes to suit your particular novel. You can take the pictures and video with the iPad or iPhone, so you don't need any other technologies.
What do you need? Any video equipment, but if you're a beginner and have access to a iProduct, iMovie is fantastic. $4.99 from the app store. Students at school can work with their teacher and me to borrow the LRC iPads.

4. Dipity. Dipity is a timeline maker. It's a little buggy - had issues making one - but when it's working is a great way to show how a novel progressed and highlight the important events in the novel.
What do you need? Internet and free account.

5. Prezi. I love prezi. It's all zoom-y and fun. Great way to do a presentation, save it to the website, and work on it again. It zooms and swoops and makes me happy.
What do you need? As per so many of these, an internet connection and a free account.

6. Stixy Stixy allows you to create a message board style page, with pictures, documents and notes. You can work with others or by yourself. This would be a great way to create character profiles.
What do you need? Internet and a free account.

7. Photo Essay. Putting together a photo essay is a great way to use photography skills and display your knowledge. There are websites like Flickr, which allow you to upload pictures, apps that allow you to build photo collages and places all around that will print out pictures. Plus, with some apps, you can make the pictures look different - manga style or what not. Great visuals will tell a story.
What do you need? A camera or camera device, editing programs or apps, ability to print out pictures and some creativity.

8. Tagxedo. The tagxedo site allows you to make word clouds that can be made lto look like a particular image. Great way to show the main ideas and that you understand the visuals the author is presenting.
What do you need? Internet and free account.

Beth Maddigan (the awesome) has some more web 2.0 links on her jux account. Really - if you can dream it, you can do it!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New Display: Blind Date with a Book!

I've just finished my new display. It was inspired by discussions on the YALSA Ya List and was a lot of fun to prepare! Entitled 'Blind Date with a Book', it allows students to pick a book with minimal input from me, just short clues, written much like personal ads. I also gave the option to solve all the clues to get a chance to win a $10 Chapters card (mental note, must buy $10 chapters card.....)

The display board had the instructions on how to do this (read the clues, pick out a book, check it out (I put a temp barcode on each one), give back the clue, unwrap the book and enjoy!). I also put a list of all of the clues there in a folder.

The main issue that I had was that at this point, some classes are doing their independent novel and so my choice of novels was limited. Many "good" or easily recognizable ones are checked out or I know will be necessary for the classes coming down later. However, I managed to get 16 books ready for this.
The clues were as follows (you can highlight the space after the words "Book Title' to see which book it's talking about):

Clue #1: Where did you come from? Are the boy I created? Are you here to kill me or save me?
Book Title: Eve and Adam

Clue #2: Needed: Someone to help me run my family. Must be able to be discrete selling illegal goods and able to deal with chocolate shortages
Book Title: All these things I've done

Clue #3: Needed: someone to help me solve my own story. Must be able to dance all night.  
Book Title: Entwined

Clue #4: Seeking: The Almighty Smize.  Can you help me conquer Catwalk Corner?
Book Title: Modelland

Clue #5: Looking for a guy who understands ambition, family and complicated hair. Must enjoy the sound of a typewriter late into the night and agree with the civil rights movement.
Book Title: The Help

Clue #6: Wanted: A family guy. Must appreciate how important sisters can be. Should be able to help provide for my sister and mom, especially when I am unexpectedly away. Abilities to hunt, bake and ice cakes will be taken into consideration.
Book Title: The Hunger Games

Clue #7: Needed: Someone to help me live my last day. Must be comfortable with repeating themselves.  
Book Title: Before I Die
Clue #8:  I’m Crazy For You. Love is a disease – let’s catch it!
Book Title: Delirium

Clue #9: Wanted: an organized, understanding guy. Must like golden face tattoos, girls with complicated jobs and be able to keep secrets. No vampires need apply.
Book Title: Bloodlines

Clue #10: Wanted: Someone to make me their choice. Must be brave, smart, selfless, kind and honest.
Book Title: Divergent

Clue #11:  Looking for someone who loves me for me. I’m a modern, updated girl who is looking for someone who doesn’t judge. No married people need apply!
Book Title: Jane

Clue #12: Looking for someone who won’t take my breath away. Must love the novel ‘An Imperial Affliction’. Not required to have all of your limbs.
Book Title: The Fault in our Stars

Clue #13: Wanted: A person to travel with me. Must love adventure, uncertainty and the colour blue.
Book Title: 13 Little Blue Envelopes

Clue #14:

Seeking Friends for an Adventure:  Helpful if you have one absentee parent who just happens to not be human.
Book Title: The Lightening Thief

Book Title: The Help

Clue #15: Wanted: a smart girl who won’t dump me. Being named Katherine is both an asset and a deficit.
Book Title: An Abundance of Katherines

Clue #16: Are you in my future? If not, what can we do to get you on my profile?  
Book Title: The Future of Us

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Exciting Times at the Library

Of course, aren't they all exciting times?

It was fantastic to get caught up in the excitement of the awards earlier this week. I didn't agree with all of the choices (Seraphina and I will have to agree to disagree) but I did agree with the love and excitement shown as they were awarded. Full list of winners can be found here. I've since ordered a few of the ones I'd not read - very excited.

I begin book talks today with students. This is such a vital and important part of my job and I love it so much. I'm busy cataloging books that I bought at Chapters recently and planning out what to say with each of them ("it's about the Titanic. And werewolves. Yes. Werewolves on the Titanic..."). I love it when kids talk back - respond - with their opinions on books as well. If you look at my Goodreads profile, you'll see that the ones on the 'Non-Word Reads' shelf are languishing as I try to get through ones for the booktalks. Ah well. I'm currently reading 'Dash and Lily's Book of Dares' and have fallen in love with it. Why are all of these teens so much cooler than I'll ever be? Ah well....

I recently got an ipad for the library - and have since ordered an ipad mini. On each I put quotes from books. This one has 'I am Selfish. I am brave'. The mini will have (I hope!) 'Maybe okay will be our always'. I'm hoping that putting these quotes will mean that it makes it that much more obvious that the connection between technology and books is there! I spent yesterday downloading apps - now I need to explore more and see what I need to do to make it the ultimate library tool. I did just download the YALSA book finder, so that might help! I spent about 20 minutes the other day making a video about the library - no plot, no focus - just to see how to do it in iMovie. It's an app I'll be recommending to teachers to use for book trailers or even general presentations. 20 minutes, no fuss, no muss - just a not great but looked fantastic horror movie trailer about the library.

It always amazes me how many things can happen in a library. The set for our school musical is over in the corner, a college is presenting here third period, a social justice class is scheduled for fourth period and I'm book talking during fifth period. My homeroom has been here, the PASS teacher has students scheduled all through the day. Our PD day will be here, the set will be gone! and prom decorations will be created. It's a cozy place.

Now... if the books would catalogue themselves.....

Monday, January 28, 2013

Reviews: Moonbird and Seraphina

Review: Moonbird: A year on the wind with the great survivor B95
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-374-30468-3
Reading Level: Grades 5 and up


Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Published by: Doubleday Canada, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-385-66839-2
Reading Level: Grades 9 and up

I've chosen to review Moonbird and Seraphina in the same entry NOT because they have overwhelming similarities but because what I have to say applies to both. One is a fiction novel about a half dragon caught up in a mystery, the other is a non fiction tale of a bird migration and of B95, a bird who has made the journey over 18 times - flying the distance one would travel from Earth to the Moon and halfway back again. So, no true similarities but one: I disliked both but knew I was reading good stuff.

I don't like dragons - or even half dragons and thus a plot surrounding them is not to my taste. 'Seraphina' reads well and the storyline is interesting - murder, intrigue, fighting between groups. However, make those groups dragons and humans and throw in descriptions on how to clean your scales and I'm out. I enjoyed it more in this second reading (I reviewed it previously for 'Resourcelinks and had a ARC). I can see literary merit in this book - well written, strong plot, well developed characters. I just did not like it. 

The same is true of 'Moonbird'. In this saga about the migration of the rufa red knot, we learn about the travel and diet patterns of this bird species. These birds travel from Terra del Fuego in South America to the breeding grounds of the Canadian Arctic. The migration habits of this group have been tracked as well as their population. Scientists have tagged and identified many of the rufa, tracking them year after year. B95 was tagged 18 years ago and is still flying. Given the fact that the population of the rufa has dropped 80% in the past 20 years, his survival is fairly epic. This is a full colour book, pullouts of bios, features and facts an dis nicely written. However, I couldn't find it in me to care for these birds. That sounds callous but honest - I thought the story was fascinating, I was just not inspired to help. I did like that they mentioned Parks Canada in the list of groups and resources of people for those who are inspired to help - Parks Canada does great work and should be mentioned.

Both books received a 4/5.

Good reads page Seraphina
Good Reads page Moonbird.