Saturday, 25 February 2017

Professional development

Yesterday was a Professional Development day in our district. I love PD. I love learning and I truly appreciate the time I have to explore whatever PD interests me.

This Pro D day, I opted to do self directed because I have been absolutely overwhelmed this year and just the mere thought of presenting at or attending a big district event made me shudder. What I truly wanted was a quiet day to read, learn, watch, and reflect. I know that the district doesn't want professional development to happen in isolation, but that's exactly what I needed. In my job as a teacher librarian, every day is a series of intense conversations with teachers. I'm constantly collaborating. I'm not complaining, not at all; I recognize that that is the nature of my job (and truly how I've crafted my job) and I wouldn't want it any other way. But for my PD day this February, I needed an opportunity to quietly move my learning forward on my own.

And learn I did. I caught up on all the posts in the FB group Future Ready Librarians. From the posts, I explored TL blogs, display ideas, and questions about teacher librarianship in general. What an incredible wonderful group to be a part of! I also checked out the #futurereadylibs tweets in Twitter to make sure I wasn't missing anything and watched a couple of webinars. I tackled some of my professional reading (my School Library Journals were starting to pile up). I spoke with colleagues about the new curriculum and resources we have to support it. It was fabulous to have time to invest in myself.

But my PD didn't end with the school day. Just like any other day, I spent the evening reading and trying to improve my 'craft' because learning never truly ends.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

BC's new curriculum

CNB is a grade 7 to 9 middle school and this year we have delved into the new curriculum. What I've noticed so far, from a teacher librarian perspective, is that teachers are approaching the curriculum differently. Teachers have really embraced the concept of big ideas and it has translated into very different resource requests.

Historically, teachers would move through the curriculum topic by topic and request very simple resource pulls from me. For example, I would pull all the War of 1812 books, or the shelf of ancient Egypt books. With the implementation of PBL some years back, I had noticed a move away from traditional research topics to more layered inquiry approach. This year, with the new curriculum, I've noticed a spike in more complicated resource requests which makes my job much more interesting while testing my knowledge of the collection.

Some examples of recent trickier requests:
- books on middle ages history for each continent (except Antarctica, phew)
- religion books. Not usually a difficult one but I had a list of 23 religions to find resources for.
- field guides but not just science field guides. I was delighted when I stumbled upon field guides for fairies and trolls.

Even when I do pull all the Renaissance books, it's still not quite like it use to be. This past week, students were studying the Renaissance and sure, some of them were just researching da Vinci but some were posing questions that they wanted to research. What was medicine like during the Renaissance, what was the change in architecture, and how were women treated were just a few questions students were using to guide their research. Suddenly, the resources pulled were not enough and students were back in the collection looking for more resources.

I must admit, I do like the new approach to curriculum. But the more inquiry based projects I see, the more I realize that it is imperative that teacher librarians be a part of the inquiry process and teach students the research skills they need to be successful in their exploration.

Sunday, 5 February 2017


This blog post is tackling a difficult topic for teacher librarians: coverage. I know that I'm asked every single week to cover someone's class, whether it be a whole class, or just a part of a class. And I get it. I certainly don't mind covering if there's an emergency of some type but I get my back up when I feel that I'm being taken advantage of. For the most part, I don't agree with pulling a non enrolling to cover someone else's classes because:

1. It suggest that I'm not busy in the library when clearly I am. For example, I currently have every single block booked in the library and reams of marking to tackle. When I cover a class, everything I should be doing is put on hold and I end up taking more of my personal time to get caught up.

2. I never get that time back. If an enrolling teacher gives up prep time to cover, often the classroom teacher will give up his/her own prep to cover a class in return. There would seem to be some give and take, give and take that doesn't extend to the teacher librarian.

3. I think it's disrespectful. I know that sounds harsh but I find that teachers will often come in the morning that they need coverage to talk to me and inform me that they need coverage. And most often it's just assumed that I'm okay covering their class. It's even more bothersome when I know it's the only time that teacher is going to approach me all year.

What it boils down to is the fact that I need to learn how to say no. I realize that the one teacher coming in to ask doesn't know that another teacher asked me the previous week, and a different teacher the week before.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Book picks for March

Book blurbs and photos from Goodreads

1.  A List of Cages by Robin Roe

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he's got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn't easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can't complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian--the foster brother he hasn't seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He's still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what's really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

2. We are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen
Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends their entire lives. Cath would help Scott with his English homework, he would make her mix tapes (it's the 80's after all), and any fight they had would be forgotten over TV and cookies. But now they've graduated high school and Cath is off to college while Scott is at home pursuing his musical dreams.

During their first year apart, Scott and Cath's letters help them understand heartache, annoying roommates, family drama and the pressure to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they want to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should be more than friends? The only thing that's clear is that change is an inescapable part of growing up. And the friends who help us navigate it share an unshakable bond.

3. Teach Me To Forget by Erica M. Chapman

This is the story of Ellery, a girl who learns how to live while waiting for the sate she chose to die.

Ellery's bought the gun, made arrangements for her funeral, and even picked the day. A Wednesday. Everything has fallen into place. Now all she has to do is die.

When her plans go awry and the gun she was going to kill herself with breaks, she does the one thing she has control over -- return it and get a new one. After tormenting the crusty customer service associate by trying to return the gun with the wrong receipt, Ellery gets caught by the security guard who also happens to be someone she knows--the annoyingly perfect Colter Sawyer from her English class.

4. The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane

According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place--and she's just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head--and her home state--and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at risk teens.

Zander does not fit in--or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There's her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar.

But amid group "share-apy" sessions and forbidden late night outings, unlikely friendships form, and as the Michigan summer heats up, the four teens begin to reveal their tragic secrets

Qs for History is All You Left Me

Q1 What were your first reactions to the book?

Q2 Did you like the dual timeline approach to storytelling?

Q3 Thoughts about Griffin? His first love, his OCD, and his grieving.

Q4 Griffin's parents were true YA parents: absent. Comment

Q5 Let's talk about Theo. Thoughts about him? And his death?

Q6 And then there's Wade. What did you like about Wade?

Q7 Favourite scene/quote?