Saturday, 29 November 2014

5 Favourite November reads

November was a great reading month!  I got caught up on some books I've been meaning to read for awhile and I read many incredible books.

1. I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson.
Noah and Jude are twins who once finished each others sentences but now can't really stand each others company.  If they were just honest with each other they would discover they were both battling similar demons and have each other to lean on. I loved this book.  The characters were strong individuals whom I cheered for and smiled with.  A fabulous grade 9 and up book.

2. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
The latest book by Stephanie Perkins follows Isla and Josh as they fall in love.  But no Perkins novel would be that straight forward.  Isla needs to figure out what is important to her and love herself before she can recognize the love that Josh has for her.

3. How it went down by Kekla Magoon
This story follows the shooting of Tariq and how his death ripples through the community and then the country.  What's riveting about this book is all the truths and lies that never get sorted out before the story hits mainstream media.  We are looking at adding this novel as a literature circle book.

4. The Selection by Kiera Cass (followed by books 2 and 3: The Elite and The One)
I know I should have read this book earlier but it is rarely in the library and I can see why!  America is one of thirty five girls selected for the prince, Maxon, to date.  From this pool of thirty five, Prince Maxon must select one to marry.  America is not like the other girls and is determined to just be herself which is difficult amongst the politics of the palace.

5. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
I don't know how I missed this book when it came out, but somehow I did.  Another solid Perkins read with Lola as a strong female protagonist who is trying to comfortable with being herself especially after the boy next door broke her heart before leaving town.  Trouble is, that boy next door has returned.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

What is good leadership?

I have been reflecting on the question, what is good leadership?  As a teacher librarian, I believe we need to take on leadership roles within the school, especially around instructional leadership.  However, this isn't something that is taught or really even talked about in the teacher librarian world.  Indeed, I don't think leadership happens until a teacher librarian fully knows and understands both the collection and the curriculum first.

To be a successful leader, I think an individual ideally has the following:

1. Vision
I have come to realize that a good leader not only does the day to day events well but also sees how those daily events fit into the larger picture.  A leader has a clear vision or goal of what needs to be accomplished and how going about that is best done.

2. Communication
Communication is key to success but is often a major stumbling block. It's important to realize that communication is all about when, where and how.  When: communicate often.  Where: communicate through various means ranging from email to meetings.  Don't rely on one means of communication. How: communicate clearly and consistently.

3. Confidence
A confident leader is not an arrogant leader.  Confidence means that the leader is more than comfortable in giving leadership roles to others.  Indeed, handing over power to others usually means that more leaders are created and when others are given leadership opportunities they tend to go above and beyond.

4. Trust
And all this is built on trust.  Trust is a nuance that has been built through all the little actions and thus it is a hard one to repair if it's broken.  Those in leadership roles need to trust those around them.  In addition to trusting others, it is imperative that leaders have much more than their own best interests in mind.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Photos of a changing library (Part Two)

The second post about the changes we have made in the library over the past year. These photos try to highlight the space as a whole.

 Our school's PAC just granted our funding request and we are purchasing green and black beanbag chairs to go with the plastic form chairs that we already have.  We also received funds to buy espresso tables to finish our computer stations off.  The new tables will be a little higher to allow more leg room for the students.

 I love our space from the decorated walls to the decorated bulletin boards.  My 'What Ms. Hart has read this year' bulletin board is, surprisingly, closely monitored by the students.  I have a few grade 7s who ask each week what I am currently reading and many students make recommendations as to what I should read next. 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Photos of a changing library (Part One)

When I posted my blog entry, Weeding the entire library: 6 major changes, I had a couple of people ask me for photos.  The photos above are (left) my new stools for the computer charging stations and (right) the letter i of the word imagine. Each letter of imagine has clouds and a sky themed image such as a kite or a bird.

The two images on the first line (left) my hanging book display and (right) my reference section wall with pebble wallpaper. The second line images are (left) inspiration quote on canvas and (right) vinyl sticker quote. The last image is another canvas quote with wooden bird decals.

We also had the entrance doors of the library painted (left) and put up student work and book quotes (right).

Monday, 10 November 2014

Weeding the entire library: 6 major changes

We are entering year two of transforming the library into a more modern space that students enjoy and can call their own.  As a result, we are weeding the library from books to furnishings!

1. The books
We've gone through the books carefully to make sure there's nothing grungy or out of date. I've had to part with some books that I've loved but that weren't read by the students. I don't want students hunting for good books, all the books should be fabulous.

2. The security system
We tore up the security system figuring that really students don't steal books and it's not very inviting to walk through a security system. I decided that if students are stealing books that we sign out for free...

3. The artwork
We asked the art 9 students to take our bulletin boards and paint them with birch trees and they look stunning. Two art 9 students painted the northern lights on our doors. We have the words: create, imagine and inspire also painted by students. It's important for students to see their own work in the library and I'm amazed at how talented the students are.

4. The seating
We have started to carve out a reading nook in the library and started with three circular chairs. Our goal for this year is to expand that space and incorporate some beanbag chairs there.  We also tore apart my office and transformed that into a collaborative space for students and teachers.

5. The workspace
We are in the process of redesigning our computer space. We have a work order in to remove the old computer pods and are trying to create computer islands.  The hope is to add charging stations to the islands.

6. The walls
We have decorated almost every available wall space with wallpaper, vinyl quotes, and canvas posters. It always amazes us how quickly the students notice when we add something new!

We still have a long way to go but I love walking into the library each and every morning and looking at the space.  It is a more comfortable space and I believe the space greatly impacts the mood of both students and teachers.  I know the library makes me smile but that might just be the teacher librarian in me.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Best reads of October

1. we were liars by e. lockhart
What a fabulous read. Cadence is from a respectable family, a very wealthy and respectable family.  However, the summer she was 15 something happened and she can't remember what it was.  Two years later, she returns to her family's island and struggles to put the pieces of that fateful night back together.

2. El Deafo by Cece Bell
I admit it, I find graphic novels hard to read.  I think I find them challenging because there is so much to read outside of the words. Yet, I had heard only wonderful things about El Deafo and it didn't fail to deliver a magnificent read. Both of my boys asked to read this book and I had a hard time getting it back from them.

3. Sway by Kat Spears
Jesse Alderman runs the black market of information at high school. You want something or someone, you talk to Jesse. When football jock Ken asks for help getting Bridget to go outwith him, Jesse is up for the challenge that is until he gets to know Bridget himself.  A humorous read.

4. Cold Calls by Charles Benoit
I'm not usually drawn to reading suspense novels but I liked the cover of this book. Suspense novels are also very popular with students right now, but that might just be because of the time of the year.  In Cold Calls, the 3 main characters have secrets and someone knows their secrets and is blackmailing them. At what lengths will they go to ensure that their secrets remain so.  A fast paced and realistic novel that middle school students will enjoy.