Monday, April 29, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading? 4/29/13

Last week I finished reading:
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg- This book was gross and engaging.  I can't wait to share with students.  I hope they enjoy it as much as I did.

The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure- I would like to tie this story in with a lesson on evaluating pictures for authenticity.  Here is a link to a webpage with hoax pictures.

Waiting to Forget by Sheila Kelly Welch- Painful story with a hopeful ending.  I was able to booktalk this title today to several seventh grade students who immediately checked it out.

Icefall by Matthew Kirby- I could not get into this audiobook.  It was very slow paced.  All of our library copies are checked out.  I have talk to a student that has read this book to get their opinion on it.

The Underdogs by Mike Lupica- I am not a sports fan and thought I would not enjoy this book.  I was happily surprised.  It was funny, fast paced and full of great motivational speeches.

The Apothecary by Maile Maloy- The cover does not do this book justice.  This book has magic!  I am booktalking it to all my fantasy readers.

I am currently reading:
A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull (audiobook)
Manuscript found in Accra by Paulo Coelho
Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching Off My Parents by Zac Bissonnette
Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby

I read these books to my little guy:
Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall
Wiener Wolf by Jeff Crosby
All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon
Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town by Mary Casanova

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Skype in the library and more literary cafes

I've always wanted to use Skype in the library.  This month we used Skype, not only once, but twice!  Last week, our students participated in a Poetry Slam via Skype with Michal Hope's middle school students as part of Poetry Month.

This week we used Skype to have our seventh grade Language Arts students meet author Diane Stanley and discuss her novel 'Saving Sky' which is on this year's SCJBA nominee list.  We met with Mrs. Stanley online twice for 30 minutes each time in order for all of our seventh graders to have a chance to "meet" her.  Mrs. Stanley shared with students background about the book and about her life as a writer from her home office in New Mexico.  Students had about 20 minutes for Q&A and they did a great job asking thoughtful questions.

The Language Arts teachers and students really liked the literary cafes we did for The Outsiders unit and for the myths/fairy tales/legends unit and wanted to do something similar for this project.  I set up different stations in the library where students learned about Japanese internment camps, concentration camps and the US Patriot Act.  Students wrote journals about their reaction to what they read/watched at each station.  I pulled books from our shelves and from the public library to create the following stations: 

  • poetry books with poetry written by children & adults in Japanese internment camps and concentration camps. 
  • picture books about Japanese internment camps & concentration camps. 
  • nonfiction books about Japanese internment camps & concentration camps.
  • articles from DISCUS about the US Patriot Act
  • Discovery Education videos about the US Patriot Act
  • Discovery Education videos about Japanese internment camps 
Our literary cafes have been a hit this year with seventh grade.  I'm hoping to get sixth and eighth grade classes in next school year to try it out now that they've had a chance to see it in action a few times.  Another nice thing that happened this year is that I've had a chance to work with many of our student teachers during these literary cafes.  One student teacher told me on Friday that she will make sure to become best friends with the media specialist at her new school.  Yea for collaboration!!!

Please share any projects you've done using Skype!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Building a Reading Culture

Last night we held an open house at our school for our upcoming sixth grade parents and students.  After a presentation from our administrative team and sixth grade faculty, I had the chance to meet and greet lots of families into the library for a quick presentation on how to encourage reading over the summer.  I also took this opportunity to invite the Manager from our local public library branch to talk about summer reading programs and FREE resources available at the public library.  She, in turn, invited the new Youth and Family Services Supervisor to join the conversation.

I'm always happy to find a way to tie in our public library to what we are doing in our school.  During our chat before the presentation, I learned that there will be a new teen center at our main branch inspired by what YouMedia has been doing in Chicago Public Library.  I'm excited about this news and am looking forward to checking it out!!!

Last week the Teen Librarian Toolbox blogged about reluctant readers for Reluctant Reader Week.  Check out the posts linked here.  It's a great resource and the timing was perfect for me.  I printed off the ten tips in this post and handed those out to parents last night.  I used this article from Educational Leadership to create the presentation below.  (The images on tips #2 and #5 are hyperlinked.)

Building a Reading Culture from Lorena Swetnam

This school year I shared weekly literacy tips in our school newsletter along with my regular library news announcements.  I used tips from this article to help me get started.  What literacy events/programs do you use to promote reading with your parents and community at the middle school level?  I'd love to hear!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

4/22/13 It's Monday! What are you reading?

I finished reading::
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine- I was hooked to this historical fiction novel about integration in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1958.  Stories about this time period are popular in our school library.  I look forward to promoting this title to our students. 

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson- I started listening to this on audiobook and had to checkout the print version to quickly finish reading it.  This story left me relieved, angry and sad all at the same time.  

City of Orphans by Avi- I was a little skeptical about this novel.  The story is set in 1893 in New York City and gives readers a taste of what life was like for immigrant families, especially children.  It's fast paced with a mystery to be solved.

I am currently reading:
The Apothecary by Maile Maloy
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby (audiobook) 
Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho

I read these titles aloud to my little guy:
Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
Oh, No! by Candace Fleming
Little Dog Lost: The True Story a Brave Dog Named Baltic by Monica Carnesi
No Sleep for Sheep by Karen Beaumont
Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett
Road Work Ahead by Anastasia Suen
Star of the Week by Barney Saltzberg

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Charger Research Model

I completed an online class through PBS Teacherline titled 'Building Critical Thinking Skills for Online Research' last summer.  During the course, I read and learned about various research models in order to develop my own research model for my school.

Going into the project, I knew I wanted to develop a research model that was simple and easy to follow without overwhelming students with a lot of steps. I borrowed and adapted from the following research models: the Big6, New South Wales (NSW), South Carolina's The Simple Four and The Research Cycle Model (RCM).

Click here to view The Charger Research Model for Students.

My favorite model was the NSW model because, along with sharing what the students were doing at each step, it also listed what the teacher should be looking for in the student work at each step. Since I also wanted to share this model with teachers, I borrowed heavily from the NSW model.

Click here to view the The Charger Research Model for Teachers.

So far, I've shared the model with all of our teachers and our seventh grade students. Before sharing with the seventh graders, I decided to add the list of links and tools they would use at each step of the research process. We are a 1:1 computing school and I wanted to make sure to demonstrate how our library resources, technology and other tools all come together during the research process.

Sharing the model with students also helped me update the homepage of the school library website. I wanted students to be able to click on the resources they would need for reading and research when they arrived on the school library homepage, instead of hunting for them in the sidebar. I find I am always creating stuff on the library website and going back and making it simpler. I have a love/hate relationship with the library website.

Now that I've gotten my feet wet with seventh grade, I am looking forward to sharing this with our sixth graders next school year to help set the stage for research. Starting off with our seventh graders helped me refine & tweak what I originally created in the summer. Please feel free to borrow, copy and share :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

4/15/13 It's Monday! What are you reading?

I am pushing myself to read more middle grade books to help me be a better book pusher.  In an effort to meet my reading goals, I applied to serve on our South Carolina Junior Book Award committee.  (I just received my acceptance email today! Yea!)  I hope that joining the committee will help me stay on track with my reading goals, as well as participating in this 'It's Monday! What are you reading?' meme.  We shall see :)

My reading goal for the next several weeks is to read all twenty of of the 2013-2014 SCJBA nominee books before we go on summer break.  Last week I read the following books:

"Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart" by Candace Fleming.  I am pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying more and more nonfiction books.  This book kept my attention with its alternating chapters between details about Amelia's life & career and the heartbreaking search for her during her final flight.  I look forward to promoting this book.

I finished listening to Carl Hiaasen's audiobook "Chomp" last week.  I enjoyed the humor and reality TV show plot.  I kept thinking about my favorite survivalist Cody Lundin from the television show "Dual Survivor."  I know in my heart Cody is nothing like Derek Badger.

I booktalked "Hidden" by Helen Frost to a member of our school book club the following morning after I finished reading it.  The student checked it out on the spot and came back the next day raving about the book.  I like reading novels written in verse.  I hope to get more students to try out this genre by booktalking this quick and engaging read.

I finished listening to the audiobook version of "Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading" by Tommy Greenwald.  All of our library copies are checked out right now.  I look forward to hear what our students think about this title.

Last week, I read the following picture books to my six year old son:
"Three Hens and a Peacock" by Lester Laminack

"Babar and his Children" by Jean de Brunhoff

"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" by Jane Cabrera

I am currently reading:

"Saint Louis Armstrong Beach" by Brenda Woods

"The Lions of Little Rock" by Kristin Levine (audiobook)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Read Across America Day, Dr. Seuss' Birthday and Disability Awareness Month

During the month of our March, our school has a wonderful tradition of celebrating Dr. Seuss' birthday and Read Across America Day by reading one book in one day as a whole school.  This is a great event that promotes reading and creates a feeling of community in the school.  We accomplish this feat by reading aloud 3-4 chapters in each class period until we finish the book in the last class period of the day.  

In the past, we read Sharon Flake's book "The Broken Bike Boy and Queen of 33rd Street", David Lubar's book "Hidden Talents and Three Cups of Tea- The Young Reader's Edition by Greg Mortenson, Sarah L. Thomson, and David Oliver Relin.   

At the end of last school year, our Special Education department chair suggested we read a book that ties in with Disability Awareness Month which is also recognized in the month of March.  This year we celebrated Dr. Seuss' Birthday, Read Across America and Disability Awareness Month by reading author Sharon Draper's book "Out of My Mind."

If you have not read this book yet, please go out and read it.  Our teachers and students loved this book. And to make it even better, when I explained to our Language Arts department our plans to move forward with this theme for Read Across America for next year, a Language Arts teacher volunteered to read books to help us pick out a title for next year.  Now there are three of us reading books and discussing possible book titles for next year's Read Across America.

If your school reads a book as a whole school, please share in the comments!

Friday, April 12, 2013

3rd Quarter in the BMS Library Media Center

Please take a look at what we've been up to in the media center during the third quarter of the 2012-2013 school year.  Look forward to posts about different events and projects we had in the library recently.