Friday, 27 November 2015

December poll book blurbs

Book blurbs for the December poll. All blurbs are from  Poll at bottom of blog post

 Need - Joelle Charbonneau

“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.”
  Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.

 Killing Time in Crystal City - Chris Lynch

Crystal City called for him, and Kevin answered. And why wouldn’t he? His relationship with his father is broken—as is his arm. With barely anyone to miss him or care if he’s gone, it seemed like the perfect time for Kevin to run away to his estranged uncle and create an entirely new identity. New name. New attitude. New friends. Maybe even a new girl.

From the first moment of adventure, Kevin’s life takes a turn for the exciting. Making friends seems easy with his new persona, especially when a group of homeless beach bums instantly includes him in their crew. But do they like the real Kevin, or the guy he’s pretending to be? And will this new lifestyle help Kevin escape from the misery of his former life—or will it drag him right back into the reasons he left home?

 be-liev-a-rex-ic - J.J. Johnson

Jennifer can’t go on like this—binging, purging, starving, all while trying to appear like she’s got it all together. But when she finally confesses her secret to her parents and is hospitalized at the Samuel Tuke Center, her journey is only beginning.

As Jennifer progresses through her treatment, she learns to recognize her relationships with food, friends, and family—and how each relationship is healthy or unhealthy. She has to learn to trust herself and her own instincts, but that’s easier than it sounds. She has to believe—after many years of being a believarexic.

Using her trademark dark humor and powerful emotion, J. J. Johnson tells an inspiring story that is based on her own experience of being hospitalized for an eating disorder as a teenager. The innovative format—which tells Jennifer’s story through blank verse and prose, with changes in tense and voice, and uses forms, workbooks, and journal entries—mirrors the protagonist’s progress toward a healthy body and mind.

Orbiting Jupiter - Gary D. Schmidt

The two-time Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt delivers the shattering story of Joseph, a father at thirteen, who has never seen his daughter, Jupiter. After spending time in a juvenile facility, he’s placed with a foster family on a farm in rural Maine. Here Joseph, damaged and withdrawn, meets twelve-year-old Jack, who narrates the account of the troubled, passionate teen who wants to find his baby at any cost. In this riveting novel, two boys discover the true meaning of family and the sacrifices it requires.

Vote here for your pick!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

No teacher left behind?

Over the course of the last week, I've seen two teachers break down and cry. No matter where I turn, teachers are working harder than their students. In the current system, no student is allowed to fail. Indeed a mark less than 50% reflects poorly upon the teacher no matter if the student in question doesn't attend, or attends and works very hard at doing nothing.

Seeing teachers so stressed has once again forced me to reflect on my practice. What it my role as the teacher librarian in the building? For me it has always been Teacher Support Services. As things get hectic (more hectic) in the library, I need to stop and assess what I am doing and what I should be doing.

 1. I need to check in with new teachers. I will be taking the time over the next 2 weeks to see where the new teachers are at and how I can make life a little easier.

2. I need to sit down with grey areas students when they are in the library working. All teachers need a little reprieve whether it be from a needy student, a struggling student or a behaviour student.

What's frustrating is that teachers are identifying students who desperately need supports but with all the cutbacks, there simply aren't any supports available to tap into. I'm noticing that teachers are looking to the library for assistance. I find it very hard to say no to my colleagues but I can only do so much. At some point the administrations, the school boards and the government have to realize that teachers are burning out and do something constructive about it.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Trying new things in a broken system

At the beginning of this week, I walked into the office with my October report in hand to talk to my administrators. We went over the report together, as we always do, and had a great conversation about the library program and the collaboration that is going on in the building. At the end of the conversation, I was asked if I was happy with the direction the library was going and if there was anything administration could do to help the library program and/or my own professional growth. Wow.

I thought about it then and I continue to think about it. I know that this year has been the busiest in my teaching career. I come home every day exhausted and most Fridays I'm battling a headache. Classes are packed with 30 students. The students have anxiety, or behaviour issues or things at home are falling apart. Whatever the case, there are more students who have very complex stories and it is hard to know them all. Our student population is up from 680 last year to 740 this year, so there are many students I don't know, and often the new students are either a handful or fall through the cracks of the system. Student apathy is rampant and parental support of the educational system barely exists. Teachers are stressed and no one has time - to breath, to mark, to plan, to talk, or to do anything other than struggle to stay afloat.

With all the stresses of the daily grind increasing, sometimes it is hard to look at my own professional growth without it being tainted but my frustrations with the system. But when admin asked me how I was doing, I realized that I am doing okay. I seem to have rediscovered my path and am pushing myself to try new things. The last few weeks have seen me present at the BCTLA conference, moderate my Twitter chat #yabookchat, draft up a lesson and collaboratively teach it with the IT teacher, book a virtual field trip, and book talk cookbooks to the Foods 9 classes. On Monday, I am trying an online quiz that I created in Jupiter Grades and am hoping works. I have plans this week to sit down and collaborate with the IT teacher again and I need to chat with the shop teachers and see if there's something collaborative we could come up with. I also have a list of potential project ideas from Friday's planning session for Science 7, Social Studies 8, Math 9, Science 9 and Social Studies 9 that I need to sit down and think about. 

Coming up on the halfway mark of my career, I'm frustrated with the broken system in BC that teachers are working too hard to keep together. I simply cannot fathom how I am going to make it through the second half of my career with the increases in workload and stress. But I am satisfied with my own growth and realize I still have so much more to learn in the years ahead.

Monday, 2 November 2015

BCTLA conference

I love professional development, especially PD that is teacher librarian focused. I had the pleasure of attending BCTLA's annual teacher librarian conference which was held in Surrey this year. Once again, I was blown away with how talented and articulate my colleagues are. I still have so much to learn.

The morning keynote, Lyn Hay from Australia, was fabulous. Hay outlined the role teacher librarians have in finding their niche within the new curriculum. It was delightful to hear someone speak so positively about teacher librarians and teacher librarianship and made me feel like I am on the right track with the new curriculum. I really am fortunate to be working with incredible teachers who are already analyzing the new curriculum and including me in their project discussions.

My first session, Creating Links by Darcy McNee, was very informative. McNee outlined how she assessed what students knew about internet searching and then tailored lessons to teach students more effective search skills. She also highlighted some great resources that I was eager to go and check out. I am excited about tapping some teachers at CNB and asking them to collaborate with me and help implement some internet searching skills in their classes.

I also attended a session by Moira Ekdahl called "Inquiry And The New Curriculum: On Becoming Essential". Ekdahl's session blended quite nicely with Hay's and reaffirmed what we are doing at CNB is good work. Inquiry is messy but that doesn't mean it lacks structure. I do need to immerse myself in the new curriculum and become as well acquainted with it as I am with the old curriculum so I can see the threads that lead to amazing projects.

By the time the third session and my own presentation came around, my head was buzzing with ideas and I was itching to start planning. A big thank you to the BCTLA and all the presenters who shared their knowledge. I'm already looking forward to the next conference.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Book blurbs for the Nov 1st poll

Book blurbs for the November 1st poll. All blurbs are from  Survey link at bottom of the post.

The Masked Truth - Kelley Armstrong

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for. Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn't dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with "issues." But that's exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.  The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree. Riley and Max know that if they can't get out, they'll be next--but they're about to discover that even escape doesn't equal freedom. 
The Scorpion Rules - Erin Bow
In the future, the UN has brought back an ancient way to keep the peace. The children of world leaders are held hostage—if a war begins, they pay with their lives.

Greta is the Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, a superpower formed of modern-day Canada. She is also a Child of Peace, a hostage held by the de facto ruler of the world, the great Artificial Intelligence, Talis. The hostages are Talis’s strategy to keep the peace: if her country enters a war, Greta dies.

The system has worked for centuries. Parents don’t want to see their children murdered.Greta will be free if she can make it to her eighteenth birthday. Until then she is prepared to die with dignity, if  necessary. But everything changes when Elian arrives at the Precepture.

The Nest - Kenneth Oppel
In this beautiful, menacing novel, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, an anxious boy becomes convinced that angels will save his sick baby brother. But these are creatures of a very different kind, and their plan for the baby has a twist. Layer by layer, he unravels the truth about his new friends as the time remaining to save his brother ticks down.
With evocative and disquieting illustrations by Caldecott Medal– and Governor General’s Award–winning artist Jon Klassen, The Nest is an unforgettable journey into one boy’s deepest insecurities and darkest fears.

Carry On - Rainbow Rowell
Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.
That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.
Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here--it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

To vote, go here

Questions for Everything, Everything

Q1 When did you begin to question Maddy's mother's behaviour?

Q2 What did you like and/or not like about the format/layout of the book?

Q3 Maddy's nurse Carla appears throughout the novel. What did you think of Carla?
Q4 Olly is an incredible character. What do you like most about him?

Q5 Maddy's relationship with Olly is the impetus for growth. Was Hawaii a reasonable next step?

Q6 What do you think is next for Maddy?

Q7 What questions do you have about Everything, Everything?