Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Treat Tuesday: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

For Treat Tuesday we enjoyed the book, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, and chocolate pudding. Pudding is the bait in the book so it is only fitting to enjoy pudding with this fun story.

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? January 28th

I've read several professional books this week including:
Each of these books are worth reading and gave me ideas and titles that I wasn't familiar with.

I finished the book Lincoln's Grave Robbers. I enjoyed this one and feel like it would be a great title to recommend to those that enjoyed Chasing Lincoln's Killer.

I'm currently reading Lawless.
After watching the ALA awards today I've added Aristotle and Dante to my TBR pile and put Bomb in my bag to take home from school today.

Faculty Book Club Meeting: Code Name Verity

We met and discussed Code Name Verity this week. It received mixed reviews from the small group that actually finished reading it. Many teachers did not attend this meeting because they couldn't get interested in the book. I will admit I had to force myself to read it. I had high hopes after reading the Goodreads reviews, but I just could not connect with the character. A few members loved it though.
The small group in attendance decided on the horror genre. I knew that I couldn't convince most of them to read any of the horror that I love with zombies and ghosts so we went with This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel. This is a title I haven't read yet so I am looking forward to reading this one.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Treat Tuesday: Snowy Day

Even though my son was very disappointed that our slight chance of snow didn't work out this week, we did read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Believe it or not I had not read this book before. My son's favorite part was when the little boy hits the snowy tree and gets a snowball on his head. Due to the warm weather we decided to have chocolate milk instead of hot chocolate with our book. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Jan 21st

I just finished The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. If you liked Shatter Me, then you will like this book. Plenty of action, inner teen turmoil and a little romance. I look forward to reading the sequel and plan to buy a copy for the school library. I have several students in mind that will enjoy this book and there is a great trailer to share on Youtube.

I finished Infestation by Timothy Bradley last night. I first heard of this title from the Scholastic editor's trend list, which I turned into posters. The book is on a lower reading level and full of action and explosions so I know just the kids that will enjoy this. I'm buying a copy for my reluctant readers at school. If you can stomach watching the show,Infested, on Animal Planet, you'll love this. That would make a good tie in when introducing the book to your students.

I read a few professional book this week as well, To Be a Boy, To Be a Reader by William Brozo and How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Codell. To Be a Boy was worth the time because I've been reading a lot about literacy and male students lately. The other title is a recommended book for parents. The book provided tons of activity ideas to tie in with books. 

Next up: Lawless by Jeffrey Salane, Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz and Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinken. I love you NetGalley. I also have several books on hold at the public library. I'll read whatever gets to my branch first.

Friday, January 18, 2013

For the Boys

I've written posts in the past about my efforts to reach our male students including my all male book club and Brother Reader.  This semester our school is really pitching in to address this problem. Before the break my principal allowed me to lead a meeting with our English teachers about helping our boys improve their writing skills. I used the book Boy Writers: Reclaiming Their Voices by Ralph Fletcher as a guide. First I shared a few national statistics on boys and then I shared our school's data. This is very eye-opening, especially for those that feel there isn't a problem. Across all three grades our girls outscored the boys in English and Writing, we have more boys than girls in special education, more boys than girls receiving disciplinary action and significantly fewer boys achieving academic honors. In most cases the percentages were not even close! I'm afraid if you look at your own schools you may see a similar trend.

I am not content with these obvious differences, as a teacher and parent of a son.

In response to this data we are making some changes. I shared advice from the book that includes things like class arrangement, movement, competition, variety of acceptable writing topics, encouraging drawing for brainstorming, allowing students to type as they write and many more. I highly recommend purchasing a copy of that book as well as his new book, Guys Write. However, this is just a first step.

My principal gave me permission to start a boy discussion group with our faculty. I invited any interested staff members to attend and I purchased copies of books that address this issue. I had 8 teachers agree to participate. Over the break the members read one of the books and we met to share the insights and advice we learned.
The books we are using are:
Teaching Boys Who Struggle in School by Kathleen Palmer Cleveland
To Be a Boy, To Be a Reader by William Bozo
The Trouble With Boys by Peg Tyre
Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys by Michael Richert
Boy Writers by Ralph Fletcher
Best Books for Boys by Pam Allyn

After our first meeting to share what we learned we have decided to trade books and meet again. My hope is that we can come up with a plan of action for our school so that we can help our boys be more successful.

I've been collecting resources and reading as much as I can on the topic. I have a Scoop.it devoted to this research and a Youtube playlist. If you know of a book, article or person that I should look into I would love to hear about it.

Do you have any special programs for boys in your school? or library?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Are you interested in being a librarian?

All of the librarians in my district get together a few times a year for various meetings and we started to notice a trend. Many of them are close to retirement AND we have no one in our district that is currently pursing the Masters of Library Science. I was one of the two newest librarians hired in the district and this is my third year. We wanted to make sure that we would be able to work with passionate teachers that get into the field for the right reasons so we decided to start recruiting.

Some of you may have seen the infographic, Anatomy of a Librarian.  This infographic mentions that over the next decade there are a large number of librarians expected to retire. I'm sure the economy slowed down some of those retirements in the last few years, but judging from personal observations I expect a large number of retirements are in the near future. There was an article in Library Journal in 2010 about this issue. Another article discusses a survey that asked "Would you recommend librarianship?". I love my job so I definitely recommend it for sincerely interested people. As of this morning, Media Specialist is still considered a critical needs area by our state department of education. This classification brings with it a loan forgiveness program. This is an enticing perk.

We decided to hold an interest meeting to share the day to day tasks of our jobs, dispel myths about our position and encourage teachers to consider the career. I will admit that during my years in the classroom I did not fully understand what the librarian did each day and to be perfectly honest, the position looked pretty cushy from my point of view. I feel that our position is what you make it. If you want to shut the library down for every little occasion, enact strict rules about student visitors, avoid collaboration, and do no active reading promotions then you can have an easy day. I feel like many teachers think our job is easy because they have worked with librarians like that. This is a big frustration for the rest of us that work tirelessly to make the library the best it can possibly be. I don't want these stereotypes to attract teachers that are just tired of the classroom and looking for an easy "semi-retirement". We work together often so we hope to encourage some of the best to join our ranks.

After sending an email invite to the district I received six responses expressing interest and we had around ten interested people attend. They had lots of good questions and I hope that some of them decide to pursue librarianship.

Do you or your district organize any type of recruiting efforts for librarians?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Treat Tuesday: How Many Jelly Beans?

To celebrate Treat Tuesday, started by Shannon Houghton, my son and I read How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti, illustrated by Yancey Labat.

I heard about the book on Watch. Connect. Read. and knew right away my son would love it. You can visit the book's site to get free printables and lesson ideas. The book is a fun way to learn counting and understand large numbers. The fold out at the end for 1,000,000,000 never fails to impress my son and your young students will love it too. We have a copy at my school and we're using it for a 100th day of school lesson with my special education students. Of course, the snack for this book is JELLY BEANS! 

I highly recommend Starburst jelly beans or my seasonal favorite, Sweet Tart jelly beans. My sister and I stock up every Easter. Alas, they are not in stores yet.
Here's the view from my lap:)

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

My entry for this week's meme organized by Teach Mentor Texts is Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts.

Check out the trailer.

I love scary, action-packed books so I definitely loved this one. It is told from the point of view of four different teenagers trying to survive natural disasters and murderous townspeople. Great for your students that enjoy zombie novels, Life As We Knew It, The Kill Order and other fast paced stories.

I'm going to pick up How To Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell from the library tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Common Core Secret Weapon Tour

My partners in crime, Kristen Hearne and Monique German, and I have been fortunate enough to present our "Common Core Secret Weapon" presentation at the Upstate Technology Conference and TL Virtual Cafe. This presentation has opened up other opportunities to speak to librarians. This week we are sharing with a neighboring district, in February we are presenting to our region of the state library association and a school district a few counties away, and in March we are presenting for our state conference. In addition, we were asked by a neighboring state to present this session as well as a few individual ones at their annual summer training.
We are very honored and a bit nervous about it. We strive to do our best in our libraries and district and step up as leaders, but we sometimes suffer from humility. I suppose it is natural to wonder if what you want to share is going to help anyone. Positive blog comments, tweets, and chatting with librarians at conferences gives me encouragement to keep sharing and presenting. I know many teachers and librarians that do the most wonderful things in their classroom, but never tell anyone about it. Maybe this is why the negative stories about education get the most attention. I feel a responsibility to brag. My intent is to brag on the entire profession and bring everyone up, not myself. I'm here to serve my students and that is what pushes me. I know that librarians have a positive impact on students and student learning. I am inspired by reading blogs, sharing on Twitter, and attending presentations and webinars; therefore, I feel a responsibility to return the favor.
Do you ever question whether or not you are good enought to present? or blog? or share?
How do you overcome that self doubt?

I thought this quote summed up our concerns very well. We hope that by sharing our ideas we are helping others.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. -Rick Warren

I also found inspiration in the SLJ article, "How Does Your Boss See You?". I even asked that this be the pre-workshop homework assignment for the attendees to our upcoming presentations. Here is the link in case you missed it. My favorite line is "And while some media specialists say they’re waiting for an invitation to lead from their principals, a majority of administrators say librarians should take the initiative themselves." I hope that after our presentations the librarians in attendance will be motivated to take initiative in their schools and districts.

Who is your book crush?

For Valentine's Day I wanted to create a bulletin board of book crushes. I'm not sure where I first heard this or I would give credit. I created a little form for students to fill out. You're welcome to use it below. It isn't anything spectacular and took just a few minutes to throw together.

I have three romance books that I'm going to give away after putting all of the participants' names in a random name generator. I wanted to mark the holiday in some way, but not add anything time consuming to my plate. After putting the forms on the circulation desk I had six entries within 30 minutes. I think the girls will enjoy this. I'll be surprised if a boy participates, but you never know.

So far the crushes are Fang from Maximum Ride, Gale from The Hunger Games, Four from Divergent, Dimitri from Vampire Academy, Yong Soo from Hetalia, and Lend from Paranormalcy. Quite a variety.

My book crush is Henry from The Time Traveler's Wife. It doesn't hurt that he was a librarian! If I had to choose a YA character it would probably be Four from Divergent or Tucker from Unearthly.

Who is your book crush?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Treat Tuesday

Now that I've resolved to participating in "It's Monday. What Are You Reading?" I thought I could add "Treat Tuesday" to my week as well. This cute idea comes from Mrs. Houghton. You can see her blog here. I thought I could share my middle grade and professional reading on Monday and share my reading with my son on Tuesday since we often eat and read together.

This week we have read and reread Star Wars: A Galactic Pop Up Adventure by Matthew Reinhart. This pic is of my son with the book and our chocolate chip wookiee cookies. Here is an interesting interview with the author. I recommend the Star Wars cookbooks and the Star Wars Origami book if you have students that are fans of the series.

This book is really amazing. First of all I was surprised at how thick it was when it came in the mail. Each page not only has one large pop up, but it has little side pockets with one or more pop ups included. It was the most intricate pop up book I've ever seen. A true work of art. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

What Are You Reading?

I've followed the weekly meme started by Teach Mentor Texts for months and I've resolved to try to participate this year. I usually post about library lessons instead of books. I'm a horrible book reviewer. I either love or hate something and I'm not good at explaining why, but I thought I could participate in this without having to write reviews.

This weekend I finished Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion. I love zombie books and while technically about a zombie, this book is very different. It is a zombie romance. Yes, that's right. Sounds crazy, but it was better than I expected. Here is the movie trailer that explains it a little better. It opens Feb. 1st, just in time for Valentine's Day. Looking forward to seeing this one with several of my other zombie-loving friends. I will not be buying this one for my school library, however.

Also picked up 100 Best Books for Children by Anita Silvey from the public library. I like to check books out from the library before I commit to buying them. I've been burned too many times with professional books. I think this one will be a winner because it is often mentioned on Twitter.