Friday, September 30, 2011

My Middle School Guys Read

Today was a fun and encouraging day. Two weeks ago meetings started for my all boy book club. Students were chosen to be in the club based on reading scores and teacher recommendations. I wanted this club to target those reluctant readers that are not served with resource classes or other special education accommodations, yet they still found reading to be a challenge. I also wanted it to be gender specific. Unfortunately boys are usually our most reluctant readers so I decided to go with boys this year. I may expand in the future and have a girl club too. I explained the club to the boys in a delicate way. I wanted them to be excited to be chosen and not feel punished in any way. I let them know that they were hand picked by me and the club was invitation only (major bonus points in middle school society) and that based on their reading scores they were just on the edge of making some major leaps in reading progress (which I truly believe). Most of them were happy to be chosen. Two from each grade decided that they did not want to participate. I was disappointed, but I didn't want to coerce them. I may go back and add a few more in those slots after we finish our next book. I have had several other students come begging to be in the group, but I want to keep a consistent core group so that I can monitor their academics as the year goes on.
These students come to the library after lunch during SSR and read with me. We usually read in my back office because of our lunch time visitors and classes. I purchased ten copies of the following books: Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald, Storm Runners by Roland Smith, Genius Files: Mission Impossible by Dan Gutman and The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. Three of the four have sequels. Sneaky, I know.

The 8th graders are currently reading Storm Runners. I have a recording of the book on our iPods so they read along with the recording each day. This title was one of the free titles provided this summer through SYNC YA. We will read the sequel, Storm Runners: Storm Surge next and then The Cay (another free title from this summer). We have copies of The Cay in our ELA book closets gathering dust so I've grabbed a few copies and plan to use them with my boys.
The 6th graders finished reading The Strange Case of Origami Yoda yesterday. I have been reading this to them aloud. We threw a little party today to celebrate finishing our first book. I drew inspiration from Jennifer LaGarde's amazing book release party. We watched a Youtube video I found of Tom Angleberger folding an origami Yoda and we created our own finger puppets. We drank Yoda soda (lime sherbet and 7Up) and snacked on Cheetos. If you've read the book you know why I chose that as our snack. We had so much fun and they were so proud that they finished the book. They can't wait to start reading Darth Paper Strikes Back on Monday.
I'm still waiting on a few students to finish testing in the 7th grade and then I'll get started with that group.
I'm still going to have our school-wide, open membership book club starting in November after our book fair. The four books we've selected for that club is Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman (one of our state's junior book award nominees), The Roar by Emma Clayton, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (one of our state's YA book award nominees) and The Heist Society by Ally Carter. Again, four books with sequels.
I'm not sure how I'm going to juggle all this yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something. I believe book clubs are so important that I'm willing to make some sacrifices to make it happen even if that means eating lunch while I sit with a group. I already eat in the library so it will not be much of a change. If you're still not sure if you should have a book club read the ideas of Jim Trelease. He makes many excellent points about book clubs in chapter 8 of The Read Aloud Handbook.
Do you have a book club at your school? How is it organized? Do you have a club targeted for a specific group or is it open to anyone?
What books do you recommend to reluctant readers? Boys and girls?
I would love to hear your ideas.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Spending Those Precious $$

I've been thinking about the collection development instructions I learned in grad school compared to making those decisions in my own library. I was very prepared to follow policy manuals, but I am not referring to those guidelines on purchasing. I am thinking about choosing the best books with a limited budget. I want every dollar to count. During these tough budget times I know many other librarians that have a $0 budget for books. Book fair profits or other fundraisers are the only sources for purchasing books. This article in Library Media Connections provides several excellent suggestions for managing during tough times. Luckily I do receive a fair book budget, but I want to spend it wisely. I have been spending the majority of my book funds on fiction. When I started last year I knew I really needed to update our collection. Fiction circulates the most and few teachers use our nonfiction books for class projects or activities. Have you noticed this in your own library?
There are nonfiction areas that I have allotted funds to beef up including Cars, Supernatural, Cooking and Sports. I have also purchased high interest titles like record books, "Would you rather" books, and books on survival. For some reason my kids are really into gross food so I purchased a few titles like "100 Most Disgusting" and "Yuck: The Things People Eat".

Students and teachers often ask me how I know what to buy. Here are a few places I get ideas:
How do you decide what to buy? Where do you get ideas? Is there a blog you trust? or someone you follow on Twitter or Goodreads that recommends great books? I would love to hear what other librarians use to make decisions about spending those precious $$.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

PD With a Twist

I am very excited to announce that I will be co-presenting a TL Virtual Cafe webinar with the fantabulous Tiffany Whitehead. She made the adorable graphic to advertise our program. We will be sharing lots of ideas for creating engaging, interesting professional development sessions for your teachers. The session will be October 3rd at 8pm Eastern. We hope that you will attend. Tweet it, link it, post it. Tell your friends!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Eliterate Librarian App

After reading this post from the Wikiman, I had to give this a try. The process is outlined in his post and it was very simple. It took me a few minutes to verify my website because I just didn't notice the Edit Html tab when I looked at the design page of my blog. As soon as I noticed that I pasted in the Bloapp's code and finished personalizing the app.
I've made an effort to create a mobile friendly site and felt like this was another part of that process. Give it a try with your blog so I can add you to my new iPhone.
Thanks to Gwyneth Jones for the heads up tweet about the Bloapp site.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Graphic Novels for Middle School

I was very happy to see this post about graphic novels on The Book Whisperer's Blog. I have read research about the positive effects of reading graphic novels and this supports that idea. I have significantly increased my collection of graphic novels and manga this year. Last year when I moved to the library the only manga series was Naruto. They were VERY popular so I knew I wanted to increase the collection. This summer I added many more series including Tsubasa, Shaman King, Hikaru No Go, Dragon Ball Z, Kitchen Princess, Maximum Ride, Zelda, One Piece, Full Metal Alchemist, Cross Game, Library Wars, Chibi Vampire, Choco Mimi, Bleach, Bakuman, My Boyfriend is a Monster, Claymore, Kamichama Karin Chu, Tegami Bachi, Yu-Gi-Oh Gx, Yuyu Hakusho, Whistle and more.

While some are not technically manga or graphic novel, I have purchased many titles that will appeal to the Wimpy Kid reader including Totally Lame Vampire, Smile, HappyFace, Milo, Doodlebug, The Popularity Papers, The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda, The Accidental Genius of Weasel High, Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading, The Defense of Thaddeus A. Ledbetter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Boring, Kill Shakespeare, Max Quigley: Technically Not a Bully, Meanwhile, Page by Paige, Splurch Academy series, and My Sister the Vampire.
Many of these I heard about in this article in School Library Journal.

There are even a few fun nonfiction graphic books I purchased including the Monster Science Graphic Library (Vampires & Cells, Bigfoot & Adaptation) and Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty.

The new manga section is always teaming with students. The books have stayed high on our top ten lists. I even had students hugging me the first week of school when they saw our new area. I have had several requests for other series that I'm considering. A few I think might be too mature, but I will check it out.

School Library Journal has an archived webinar on graphic novels here if you would like more information.

I am always open to more suggestions so I would love to hear about manga series you have in your schools.

Library Brag Board

This one is for you, Library Girl! You must check out this post from the inspiring, Jennifer LaGarde. This is my first attempt at creating a library brag board. It is probably difficult to see here, but the categories that I have on display are Library Events, Top Ten Titles, Circulation, Students of the Month, Hot Titles. Right now the Library Events area has information about due dates for our summer reading logs and a few pictures of the first few lessons we have had in the library. I have more lessons next week so I left room for more pictures. We put up the top ten titles for fiction and nonfiction. For the month of August Soul Surfer and The Hunger Games are topping the charts. I created a bar graph comparing circulation by grade. Instead of the typical Excel bar graph I overlapped the bars with clip art of a stack of books and stretched it to fit the size of the bars. I was going for a more infographic style. I took pictures of the students of the month for each grade. These are the students with the most check outs in August. Finally I created a Hot New Titles area that includes little printed book covers of new or popular books.
There is still too much blank space on there, but I will definitely be adding to it and improving as the year goes on, but I think this will be a fun way to show off the library and the programs we plan.
What would you put on your library brag board?

Creating a Culture of Reading

One of my goals at school is to create a culture of reading. There are many ways that I try to accomplish this. A few things I am doing this year is "Currently Reading" signs, education about SSR, book talks on the morning news, and Edmodo discussion groups.
I created "Currently Reading" signs for every teacher and staff member. They are on display outside each classroom or office. Studies show teachers are notorious for being non-readers. I know for some teachers at our school this is the case because they have told me. I just hope they do not tell our students the same thing. It is vital for our school population that our teachers be a reading role model so the intention of the signs is to show that adults continue to read and the signs may inspire conversations about books with teachers other than me and the ELA teachers.
We have a school-wide SSR program in place. I am so grateful for administrative support for this program. I hear from students that not every teacher participates in the program; therefore, I added SSR to a professional development class we are putting together. There are resources about SSR, research findings to support the program and tips on having a successful program. One of the main reasons for the failure of a SSR program is when the teacher supervises instead of reading with the students. I am hoping for 100% participation after sharing this information with our faculty.
Last year a few of my book club members presented book talks on the morning news. We plan to continue this and even increase how often the students share books on the news.
This summer I led a book discussion group for our ELA teachers about the book, Readicide. The two other middle school librarians in the district and I used Edmodo for summer reading discussion as well. It worked so well that I plan to use the site with the book club this year.

How do you create a culture of reading in your school?

Cute, Easy Way to Highlight Books

I first saw this idea on the amazing Sharon Matney's Pinterest page of library decorations. As soon as I saw the picture I remembered an old lamp I had sitting in the garage. I grabbed it and cleaned it up. Right now the display spotlights hurricanes so I pulled a few nonfiction weather books and a few novels with hurricanes in the plot. I have the bonus of a few windows to the hallway so I put this in one of the windows and students can see it on the way to class. I plan to change the display often depending on holidays, current events and library programs.