Meeting Rock Stars

Rattner_StaceySummer is a time when many of us finally find time to travel. Stacey Rattner’s new Leap into Reading column from the summer issue of School Library Connection gives you ten compelling reasons to make sure your next road trip includes a book festival.

The next time there is a book festival within a three-hour drive,* grab your pocketbook, make sure your phone is charged and has extra storage for pictures, gas up and go. Believe it or not, book festivals could be your ticket to success in your library. Just one example—I wouldn’t have had the talented, multiple Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King award winning illustrator, Bryan Collier, to my library if we hadn’t met at a book festival.

The Top 10 reasons to clear your calendar for a book festival near (or not so near) you:

10. You get to meet your favorite authors. Yes, authors equal rock stars in our minds. How lucky are we that we have book festivals to meet these creative folks we’ve been admiring from afar for so long? Ever hear of a movie star festival where you could get this close to dozens of stars?

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Read Like a Wedding Crasher!

800px-Charles_Sprague_Pearce_-_Reading_by_the_ShoreLooking for some great summer reads? School Library Connection’s own Paige Jaeger challenges you to look beyond those light-hearted, easy-to-read, beachside paperbacks and instead try a little “reading up.” Tweet us @SLC_online with a picture of your own challenging book for the beach this summer with the hashtag #ReadUpChallenge.

There’s this (unofficial) librarian law that says, “When a movie is released, you are not allowed to see it until after you read the book.”

We’ve all been there. So, last winter when the movie In the Heart of the Sea was released, I resolved to read the book before seeing the movie and I also decided to re-read Melville’s Moby Dick. They were my “beach reads” for a winter vacation. There was also an element of wanting to go back and remedy the error-of-my-ways as I recollect taking the short cut for Moby Dick in high school.

Both books were a challenge for me. Although I did not find them difficult, it was predictable to have to look up a word on every-other page in Melville’s book—and I like to think I have a large vocabulary. Some of the sea-faring tier-three vocabulary was new to me, and cultural references of the 1800s I had to ponder. At times I felt “out of my element.”

Catching up on professional journal reading, I came across a brilliantly written piece by Tom Newkirk, espousing that we should “read like wedding crashers.” When crashing a wedding, we are out of our element—where we are not comfortable or intended to be: “It’s an act of impersonation, of seeming to know things you don’t. It’s knowing just enough to get by, to pass.” Continue reading “Read Like a Wedding Crasher!”

Great Titles for National GLBT Book Month

Here at SLC we are always proud to feature titles that promote tolerance and diversity in all library collections. In honor of National GLBT Book Month check out this list of titles recommended by our reviewers.

076367382XThrash, Maggie
Honor Girl
2015. 272pp. $19.99 hc. Candlewick Press. 978-0-7636-7382-6. Grades 9-12

Thrash’s graphic memoir presents a love story with which every reader will be able to identify. Told primarily through flashback, Maggie recalls one particular summer she spent at Camp Bellflower, Kentucky when she was 15. After a brief encounter with a counselor, Maggie’s emotions and thoughts become confused; she contemplates her feelings, sexuality, and actions in a way with which most teenagers will empathize. Thrash’s plot and dialogue flow easily, keeping the reader intrigued. Her rough outlines, especially for people’s faces, will hopefully prove more interesting in the final full color illustrations. Honor Girl will be a page-turner leaving readers with many unresolved questions, a scenario familiar to LGBT and straight teens alike. Carrie Randall, Maine-Endwell Central School District, New York
Recommended

 

SimonAlbertalli, Becky
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
2015. 320pp. $17.99 hc. Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins). 978-0-06-234867-8. Grades 9-12

Simon hasn’t told anyone he’s gay except for Blue, someone he knows only through emails. When Simon forgets to logout of his secret email account on a school computer, Martin Addison, the class goofball, happens upon the account. Martin blackmails Simon into getting Abby, one of Simon’s best friends, to hang out with him. When Abby doesn’t return Martin’s affections, Simon’s coming out happens more publicly than he wished. The story is told in alternating chapters of Simon’s first-person narrative and his emails with Blue. It is a charming story of coming out, falling in love, and the many changes that happen within families and between friends. Personable, funny, and insightful, Simon is a character that readers can connect with and root for. The novel is utterly delightful and a valuable addition for any high school or public library. Stacy Holbrook, School Librarian, Middlebury (Vermont) Union High School [Editor’s Note: Available in e-book format.]
Highly Recommended

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From the Archives: Mighty Minerals

amethystCollaborate with your eighth grade science teacher and help your students discover their creative side with this lesson plan developed by Paula Trapani-Wiener. Students can learn all about minerals and then create an original cartoon character based on their favorite mineral.

The editors at School Library Connection/reVIEWS+ recommend the following print and digital resources for integration with this lesson. Subscribers can access reviews on our website via the hyperlinks.

We also recommend these websites:

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In Case You Missed It: October 2015 Author of the Month Sarah Albee

Pick up a book by children’s author Sarah Albee and you just might be surprised what you can learn about history from bugs, poop, and fashion. Sarah is a favorite of the team over at School Library Connection and reVIEWS+, and she was our pick for Author of the Month last October. Subscribers can access our reviews of her books via the hyperlinks.

albee 187x250“There is so much wonderful nonfiction out there right now. No longer is it the dry, fact-based, expository stuff so many of us grew up with.” So says Sarah Albee, and she should know.

Sarah Albee loves social history and has made it her mission “to get kids to see that history can be relevant to their own lives, and to love it as much as I do.” She’s certainly done her part to draw children in by writing books with attention-grabbing titles like Poop Happened!: A History of the World from the Bottom Up, Bugged: How Insects Changed History, and Why’d They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History. Students who pick these up will find that “societies that paid attention to sanitation tended to be those that survived and thrived,” and that although “insects have wiped out populations…we have co-evolved with them and must learn to co-exist.” Moreover, those who think clothes are just clothes may be astounded to discover how much “fashion reflects the political, social, economic, and moral climates in which people lived.”
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Three Ways to Differentiate Inquiry

author-Maniotes_Leslie1Inquiry offers many opportunities to differentiate learning. This column by Leslie K. Maniotes from the May issue of School Library Connection describes three ways to design more differentiation into your inquiry lessons: using a workshop model, increasing student voice and choice in the process, and incorporating a variety of student groupings into daily work.

Inquiry as a Workshop Model

The Guided Inquiry Workshop 1
(Kuhlthau, Maniotes,, and Caspari 2012)

Inquiry learning occurs in a workshop model. Similar to the writing workshop, a workshop provides time for students to work, and for teachers to hold conferences (Obermeyer 2015). In Guided Inquiry, each workshop session includes these basic components: Starter, Worktime, and Reflection (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, and Caspari 2012; Maniotes, Harrington, and Lambusta 2016).

The workshop model provides time for interventions outside the traditional classroom structure. Teachers confer with students during the Worktime to address individual needs and to keep students productively moving along their process, thus providing opportunities for differentiated teaching and learning. (Kuhlthau 2004; Maniotes, Harrington, and Lambusta 2016). Continue reading “Three Ways to Differentiate Inquiry”

Sneak Peek: Create Your Learning Commons with Pam Harland

 

Are you empowering your students as experts? In her video series with School Library Connection, Pam Harland will walk you through seven steps you can take to transform your school library into a vibrant learning commons. In this sneak peek (below), Harland provides numerous ideas for how you can start tapping into your students’ passions and skills to empower and engage. The full workshop—with coverage including connecting students with information, using space as a resource, and the virtual learning commons—is available to School Library Connection subscribers here.

 

Pam Harland MLIS, is a librarian at Plymouth Regional High School in Plymouth, NH. She has worked in public libraries, academic libraries, and at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston as a research librarian. Harland received the 2009 Intellectual Freedom Award from the New Hampshire School Library Media Association and is the recipient of the 2010 New Hampshire Excellence in Education Award for Educational Media Professionals. She is the author of The Learning Commons: Seven Simple Steps to Transform Your Library (Libraries Unlimited, 2011).

From the Archives: Every Day Weather

beach
Photo courtesy of NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) Collection

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to put up the rain gear and pull out your swimming suits. In case you missed it, here’s a lesson plan developed by Sandra Andrews and Linda Gann to help your younger students understand the changes the seasons bring. And be sure to take advantage of our reviews, written by librarians for librarians, to find just the right weather-related titles for your collection.

The editors at School Library Connection/reVIEWS+ recommend the following print and digital resources for integration with this lesson. Subscribers can access the print reviews via the hyperlinks.

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Engagement with Genius Hour

Daley_JillCongratulations from School Library Connection to our contributor Jill Canillas Daley, who was named New Hampshire Teacher Librarian of the Year at last weekend’s conference of the NH School Library Media Association. To celebrate and give our blog readers a taste of why this honor was so well-deserved, we’re sharing this article on Jill’s Genius Hour program from our November 2015 issue. Enjoy! (And don’t miss her great “FAIL” handout, available via the hyperlink in the article)

How do you get 70% of students to devote their time to learning voluntarily? Read on.

Research skills, the Holy Grail of information literacy to librarians, are essential. Among the many other abilities we strive to ensure students acquire, this skill set is the one I struggled with the most. Upon introducing a new lesson, the inevitable eye rolls and groans from my students have been strong indicators of the monumental difficulty I faced. Student engagement, excitement, and motivation were lacking, and these were the traits that I wanted to cultivate. My quest became this: how do I empower students to take charge of their learning while properly teaching them the skills needed to succeed outside of school?

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Author of the Month: Vivian Vande Velde

Classic fairy tales and virtual reality games with a twist, children with magical powers, tongue-tied dragons, princesses who don’t need rescuing, time travel, mystery, adventure, wizards, ghosts, troll teachers, unicorns, and more, all brought to you courtesy of Vivian Vande Velde.

Vivian VVV_WVande Velde can’t remember a time before she knew she wanted to write. She tells us that even as a very young child, “I would make up my own stories by taking what someone else had written and giving it a different ending…or I’d give the story from my own perspective if a character did something I couldn’t imagine…or I’d mix together characters from different stories to see how they’d react to one another.” Some of her published works reflect, in one way or another, these childhood imaginings. In Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird, The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, and Cloaked in Red, Vande Velde provides different takes on traditional fairy tales. Remembering Raquel tells the story of Raquel Falcone from the varying perspectives of her former classmates. Continue reading “Author of the Month: Vivian Vande Velde”