Sunday, 27 September 2015

Book blurbs for #YAbookchat

Here are the proposed book titles for the Nov 8th #yabookchat with quick blurbs pulled from Goodreads. Four very different books:

Alive by Scott Sigler

A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone. She frees the others in the room and leads them into a corridor filled with the remains of a war long past. The farther these survivors travel, the worse are the horrors they confront. And as they slowly come to understand what this prison is, they realize that the worst and strangest possibilities they could have imagined don’t even come close to the truth.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

George by Alex Gino

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl. George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part . . . because she's a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte -- but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

 Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson

A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.

It’s 1888, and sixteen-year-old Verity Newton lands a job in New York as a governess to a wealthy leading family—but she quickly learns that the family has big secrets. Magisters have always ruled the colonies, but now an underground society of mechanics and engineers are developing non-magical sources of power via steam engines that they hope will help them gain freedom from British rule. The family Verity works for is magister—but it seems like the children's young guardian uncle is sympathetic to the rebel cause. As Verity falls for a charming rebel inventor and agrees to become a spy, she also becomes more and more enmeshed in the magister family’s life. She soon realizes she’s uniquely positioned to advance the cause—but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Benefits of Blogging

I have read a couple of articles lately about how the time of the blog has come and gone and that one really should not waste time in blogging. I have been blogging for a few years and I must admit, I have come to enjoy it. My first blog post was a tentative step and I hesitated ever so long before hitting the publish button. I am so glad I finally did hit that publish button because I am very proud of my blog. My blogging is a way for me to reflect on my practice. It is through my blogging that I work through the problems and frustrations of my day. But it is also a place where I celebrate the joys and the highlights of my job.

I once was asked by another teacher why I would make my private reflections so public. I have found there are many benefits to blogging.

1. It keeps me in check. I am aware that anyone could read my blog and so I try to make sure that I am focusing on the issue that has me thinking. As a result, I really do work through what is bothering me or I really do celebrate what is working. This reflection is important because I take the time to articulate my emotions.

2. It provides movement/vision. As a result of reflecting, I can see where I have been and as a result, where I need to go. That sounded like a line from some hokey self help book. What I mean is that my blog forces me to examine my practice and then pushes me to grow.

3. Connectedness. A very unexpected benefit is that a couple of my colleagues read my blog (yes, you!) and, I think, it has given them a glimpse into the world of the teacher librarian or at least my version of it. As teachers we are so very often in our own classrooms and no one know exactly what struggles and triumphs we are individually enduring. A blog can act as a little window into an individual's classroom. My hands down favourite blog to read is by the Home Economics teacher at my school (you can check it out here). I love reading it because it gives me a bit more understanding about her program and what is going on in the Foods room.

Now, if only more of my colleagues would blog...

Monday, 7 September 2015

2015/6 School goals

With the start of the school year tomorrow, I have been thinking about my library goals for this year. I have realized that my goals can really be broken down into three areas:

1. Students. Like every other teacher librarian out there, I want my library program to be even stronger next year. Although I have a fabulous collection, I would like to diversify a bit more, especially in the areas of hi/lo books and the younger readers collection. I would like to increase library use by the grade 8s and 9s and am looking at doing more book talks with English classes this year.

2. Staff. I love working at CNB, and one of the reasons it is so enjoyable, is that I have incredible colleagues who are willing to not only collaborate but also to try new things. I am looking forward to a year of new collaborations and new ideas. This year I would like to focus on Math collaborations and Science projects. We also have new curriculum to look at this year and start planning for next year. Although the thought of updating my non-fiction to meet new curriculum for Social Studies and Science is a bit daunting, it is also rather exciting too.

3. Myself. Probably the hardest goal to achieve is the one I have set for myself. I have mentioned before that I would like to move my leadership outside of the school. I need new challenges and I have decided that I really enjoy CNB too much to leave and start a program at another school. I would like to become more involved in the local and provincial specialist associations for teacher librarians. I also want to spend more time with Twitter having just launched my own Twitter chat #yabookchat and do a much better job with Student Vote.

As always, I am excited about the new year!

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Book blurbs for #yabookchat

Here are the proposed book titles for the Oct 4th #yabookchat with quick blurbs pulled from Amazon and Goodreads. Four very different books:

1. Never, Always, Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school. Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he's broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It's either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.
Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they've actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

2.Every Ugly Word by Aimee Salter
 When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.

Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop

3.State of Grace by Hilary Badger
The trees are laden with fruit and the water in the lagoon is as clear as crystal. Wren's world is a utopia. If only she could stop the strange visions she's started having: flashes of another world, where there are people she doesn't know, couldn't possibly know, but who somehow feel familiar. What does Blaze, the most beautiful and mysterious of creations, know about what's going on in Wren's head? When she uncovers the lies that are propping up everything she has ever believed in, Wren must choose: remain in blissful ignorance or face the ugly truth? 

4. The Dogs by Allan Stratton
Cameron and his mom have been on the run for five years. His father is hunting them. At least, that’s what Cameron’s been told.
When they settle in an isolated farmhouse, Cameron starts to see and hear things that aren’t possible. Soon he’s questioning everything he thought he knew — including his own sanity.
What’s hiding in the night? Buried in the past? Cameron must uncover the dark secrets before they tear him apart.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Questions for the Sept 6th #yabookchat

Our first chat questions. We will also be running a poll to see what book we should read for the October book chat

Q1 What were the best reads from the summer?

Q2 What summer read (if there was one) didn't meet your expectations?

Q3 What are you currently reading and would you recommend it? 

Q4 What book on your "to be read pile" keeps getting shuffled down the pile?

Q5 What titles are you looking forward to reading this fall?

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

ProD Day #2 Webcasts

I had a couple of School Library Journal webcasts that I hadn't watched and wanted to catch up on. SLJ has great webcasts throughout the year, which you can find here

The first was From Superheroes to Vampires: The Hottest Graphic Novels and Manga of 2015. I was looking forward to this because graphic novels and manga is not really my thing but are certainly popular at my school. I found most of the books presented were more appropriate from high school or larger schools. I will be picking up A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima and Sandman Overture Deluxe by Neil Gaiman.

The second webcast Creepy Thrillers and Seriously Wicked Titles for Spring. I know, for spring. I am that far behind but I am pleased that I caught up. What a strong webcast. I was happy to see that Michael Buckley's Undertow was first up and one that I have in the library and have read! If you haven't picked this one up, you certainly should. I will be picking up The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner, Material Girls by Elaine Dimopoulos, Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel, The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons.

The third webcast Diverse Voices: A Discussion on Crafting Fiction, Nonfiction, and Audiobooks that Reflect and Celebrate Diversity was fabulous. I really enjoyed listening to author Jason Reynolds, and was nodding along everything he said, especially that we need to expand the definition of diversity.

I also listened to New Nonfiction for Young Readers. I didn't expect to find much of interest for grade 7 and up but was pleasantly surprised. Very excited about Chocolate by Kay Frydenborg, Fifty Things You Should Know About World War One by Jim Eldridge and the new books in the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series.

Another day of professional development well spent.

ProD Day #1 Tech tools

My goal for today was to play around with Canva. I wanted to learn how to use the program well enough to teach others. I also wanted to know what types of end tasks, benchmark activities and projects it could be used for. I have been using Canva all summer but only dabbling to figure out how to do Twitter posts for chat announcements and questions and I must admit I already really like the program. It is easy to use and creates really professional looking images in mere moments.

Twitter posts are lovely but I wanted to see what else I could create. I watched a great tutorial and went through the program step by step which was incredible because 99% of the time I simply do not have enough uninterrupted time to explore a tech tool. I think that we can certainly use this in a lot of projects. I can already see it being used in a poetry unit and think the potential for English classrooms is phenomenal. I am very tempted to make my own Youtube tutorial for my staff but I don't think I am ready to take that leap quite yet.

I also spent some time on Piktochart because Rachelle Poth on Twitter suggested I check it out. I can already see the value in this program as well. It's very easy to use with its drag and drop features and the free templates are perfect for school use. I am going to pester Rachelle for some of her examples as I would love to see how she uses this in a language classroom. I think I will use this for my monthly newsletter to teachers.

And I did a quick refresh of smore, and was reminded how much I like this web tool. I really like that there aren't endless choices for students because I don't want students to get sidetracked with countless fonts and forget to focus on content. I really to see if there had been any major changes to the site and I was pleased that there wasn't any drastic changes. Phew.

After spending most of the first day of pro d staring at the computer screen, I decided to turn off the monitor and catch up on some professional reading. It was nice to sit down and read the current School Library Journal. I usually am a couple of months behind. Today though, I decided to start with the August issue and work backwards which made me feel up-to-date for a nanosecond.

It was a long day of professional development but I accomplished a lot more than I anticipated. I love that I am allowed to tailor my professional development. Tomorrow - webcasts!