Friday, September 14, 2018

Daniel José Older Visits September 11th

That's me on the left.


Older drew a dinosaur for this owner of a new book

Happy Book Birthday to the Dactyl Hill Squad!The author of this book, Daniel José Older, spent the morning of his book's birthday to explain to the 6th and 7th graders why they should read about Magdalys and her friends. Many authors are genre-bending these days, and this book really pushes the envelope by mixing a story about the American Civil War period in New York with dinosaurs. These dinosaurs are not man-eaters. They have been harnessed by the people for transportation and to move goods and materials. This may seem far fetched, but it does work. Older weaves historical accuracies into his fictional story to make for a bit of fun along with some history.

All 6th and 7th grade attended the presentation

Older works the crows

The students were most interested in where he got his idea for the book and how long it took him to write it. It took three weeks! This first in the series takes place mostly in Brooklyn, but in book two, which comes out in spring of 2019, has the characters traveling to New Orleans. With the story moving to our backyard, I know the kids are going to be anxiously waiting for its book birthday. You can visit the PFTSTA Library website to see lots more pictures of the day. 



We want to thank Octavia Books and Arthur A. Levine Publishers for making this event possible. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

First Two Weeks of the 18-19 School Year



School always starts so quickly, and even though the librarians in my district are suppose to have two weeks at the beginning of school to get the library ready, I usually jump in with both feet. The middle school teachers wanted orientation as quickly as possible. I obliged, but I was not very clever with my presentation this year. Laptops weren't out yet to the students so the teachers were clamoring for the iPad carts. That meant that I would not be able to do something interactive with technology. I just didn't have time to figure out a way to complete orientation a different way. I revisited my power point from last year, made some edits and went with it. I did find a Buzz Feed list of the 18 Magical Ways that Harry Potter Changed my Life. I used this as my jumping off point of why books are important and that everyone can find their Harry Potter even if that book series is not the one for you. I went through a handful of the 18 ways and asked the students to explain what the speaker of the quote meant by what they said. It was interesting to note that the 6th graders had much more to say about the quotes than even the 7th or 8th graders. I even showed the list to my high school book group, and those students were really interested in all 18. Many of them could say that Harry Potter changed their lives. The biggest change was the way that it made them love books and reading.



Below are some pictures of our new students and returning students enjoying the first couple of weeks in the library with books and the makerspace materials---giving you a snapshot of what the day to day looks like. 










Monday, August 6, 2018

Preparing for the New School Year 2018-19

I have already sent this via email to all the teachers in my building, but I am also going to print it and put it in everyone's mailbox. I especially want the 15 new teachers to our school to know what I can for them and their students in our school library. I created this on Canva. Love that program so much and how it makes all my graphic designs look so awesome. Here's to the start of my 38th year of teaching, and my 29th year as a school librarian!


2018-19 List of PFTSTA Library Services by Ekahn6

Monday, July 9, 2018

Taking Students to #ALAAC18 was Amazing, BUT......

Loaded down with swag from ALA

I had been planning for the American Library Association's (ALA) annual conference in New Orleans for over a year. I was prepping the students in two of my book groups about what it would be like for them to spend a day with me at ALA, and if they wanted to attend, I made sure that they saved the date well in advance since many of them have camp, travel, or even work during the summer months. I was chair of the Young Adult Library Services Association's (YALSA) local area task force for this conference, so I had many duties throughout the week. I had not attended an ALA conference since Chicago in 2013, so I had booked myself solid from a pre-conference on Friday, June 22 until the afternoon of Monday, June 25. Then life happened.

I had to put my 91 year old mother in the hospital on the Tuesday before the conference. We did not think she was seriously ill, but she had been feeling poorly for weeks. She knew about the conference, and we planned ahead who would visit her and help her while I was busy at the Convention Center for four days.Then very early Thursday  morning, I got a phone call from the hospital. The next thing I knew, she was gone. So many emotions and so much to do.

On Friday at the opening session Michelle Obama was speaking. My mother, a true blue democrat, knew that I was going to hear Obama. I decided that I would do as much of ALA as I could handle. I did get to see Obama, and she was amazing. Though I was only close enough to watch her on a screen. If you want to hear what Obama has to say, you can fast forward through this video to about 20 minutes in to see and hear the interview.

LaToya Cantrell, the first woman mayor of  New Orleans, opened the conference.
My mother worked very hard on her campaign and would have loved hearing about LaToya's opening remarks.

Michelle Obama on the screen

These nine students had no clue that they were going to be bombarded with books and more books
At the NASA booth, you could hold specimens from outer space 

Nine members from two of my book groups were going to spend the day with me on Sunday. My siblings were very understanding, and I was able to make good on my commitment to take my students. We met at 9AM in front of the exhibit hall. We had a little over two hours to spend getting books, meeting authors, and filling bags up with swag. As I expected, many of them wanted to go by themselves.Two of the nine hung out with me along with a librarian friend of mine and a parent who was helping me chaperone. The two hours passed in a flash, but everyone was loaded down with many, many signed books.

Waiting for the rest of the group to arrive so that we could go to lunch

Then we headed upstairs to a room for lunch around 11:15. That wouldn't have been a problem, but it was an extremely long haul from the exhibit hall. Everyone had so many bags and many pounds of stuff to carry. YALSA provided pizza, salad, cookies, and drinks. Several publishers provided authors who speed dated around at each table so that every group got to talk to every author. I was impressed how enthusiastic the authors were to talk about their newest book since they had to give the same spiel over and over. The authors did not hesitate to answer every question posed by the teens no matter how strange but in the process seemed to really relish time spent in the company of their readers. I really believe that my teens read more and enjoy reading more when they have had an opportunity to talk to the creator of the books. I thank all of the authors for taking the time to share and listen to the kids: Deb Caletti, Neal and Jarrod Shusterman, Laurie Boyle Crompton, McCall Hoyle, C J Lyons, Allison McGhee, Andrew Smith, Caroline Tung Richmond, and Eliot Schrefer.

Laurie Boyle Crompton

My friend, Deb Caletti

Father and son writing team, Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

CJ Lyons

Andrew Smith

Caroline Tung Richmond
At 1:00 we all moved next door. The students were going to be talking to the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee (BFYA). Every year this committee selects about 75 of the best fiction works geared to teens and publishes a best of list. During the Mid-Winter and Annual conferences local teens are asked to give their assessment of the nominated books. All of the teens there that day spoke beautifully, but I was especially proud of my students. The committee was blown away and asked if we would send comments from the teens throughout the year. The librarians on BFYA want the list to be teen friendly and not a list of books only liked by the librarians and adults who serve teens. Below are pictures of the students talking to the committee.




Teen Speaks Back at BFYA Session At ALA Annual 2018 from Elizabeth Kahn on Vimeo.




It was all over about 3PM. Several of my students chose to return to the exhibit hall, but most of them left to go home to begin sorting through all their goodies. Once done, the students told me that I had not told them it was going to be like this. This meaning a chance to get dozens of free books and meet dozens of authors while becoming totally overwhelmed by the experience. I tried to tell them, but it truly is an experience that you have to go through to understand. Those kids are so lucky, and I think once it was over, they realized it.

All of the local teens who participated in the BFYA session

It was a looooong day, but so worth it.

One of my favorite books of the year ws the 57 Bus.
Here I am with the author, Dashka Slater.









Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Blog for YALSA Hub in Anticipation of #ALAAC18

Read my blog post on YALSA's The Hub



I strongly believe that belonging to professional organizations is crucial to my development to be a better librarian. Some of the organizations that I belong to include: JSLA, LASL, LLA, LACUE, ALA, AASL, and YALSA. Yes, it can get expensive because I have to pay for these memberships as my school does not, but through these organizations, I can network with my peers, get professional development, and find materials online that can help me do my job. Because I get so much out of both the state and national organizations to which I belong, I also like to give back. So when I was asked to chair the YALSA Local Area Task Force for ALA 2018, I agreed. ALA is having its annual conference in New Orleans at the end of June. I am beyond excited because I have not attended since 2013. Though I belong to the school librarian's division of ALA, AASL, I have done most of my volunteering with the Young Adult division, YALSA. 

Part of my job on the committee is to write blog posts for YALSA to help get attendees revved up about visiting New Orleans. This week, my post about YA literature set in New Orleans was published in The Hub. You can read my post here

Monday, March 26, 2018

Teen Tech Week 2018 was Another One for the Books



With three lunches, it is no longer possible to plan activities during Teen Tech Week (TTW) that are very time consuming for the students or take lots of extra pairs of hands to pull off. That is okay, because I think that I have figured out ways to simplify our planned activities but still offer five fun activities in the library for each day of the week. Also, I had to move TTW to accommodate for the fact that I was at a library conference the week before. This meant that I had to have everything ready to go before I left town for the conference that included lots of advertising to the students so that they would be ready for TTW when I returned to school that Monday.

Garden Party

Students engrossed 

I plan a different activity each day at lunch and usually have some other passive game that might be available all week in the library or online. We always start the week by showing animated shorts. This all began because TTW is scheduled near the Academy Awards, and I like to show the appropriate animated shorts that have been nominated for an Oscar. The short that won the Oscar for 2018 was Dear Basketball by Kobe Bryant. The kids loved it.  It is only five minutes, so we also watched Lou and Garden Party which were both nominated for an Oscar as well as some other shorts that I thought the students would get a kick out of. Though this is a very simple activity to execute, it is quite popular with all grade levels.






A couple of months ago, I found a post on one of the librarian Facebook groups about a Rubik's Cube borrowing program. I thought that this would be an awesome activity for TTW. Educators and youth directors can borrow large sets of cubes for a six week period from youcandothecube.com, and all you have to do is pay the return shipping. It was so easy to apply to borrow a set. I chose 100 cubes because I thought that number would be easy to manage. The cost to return is going to be about $20. I downloaded several patterns for the students to follow and printed the patterns in color. The Mona Lisa and Starry, Starry Night have been the favorites. Two cubes have gone missing, and I am responsible for replacing the cubes if any are lost. I have two cubes that I ordered and are due to arrive next week. The 100 cube set works well on two library tables pushed together, and I have left them out beyond TTW since we only have them for a short period anyway. This also was an activity that all grade levels loved.






A few years ago, I did an anti-tech activity for TTW when I invited a friend who is an author and teacher of mindfulness if she would practice meditating with the students. I thought it was a hit, so I tried again by offering a choice of finger labyrinths or mandalas to color with colored pencils. I explained about how both activities can be relaxing an aid in  relieving stress. Though there were some students who really got into these, as a whole it was not that successful. I have left out the coloring sheets and colored pencils in our makerspace area for students to use, so I know that the sheets I printed will not go to waste. It just has to be the right time for the right student.








We always have some type of craft activity for TTW. I chose paper this year but wanted something that was movable. I found lots of cool ideas online, but we have 6th-12th graders and many students arrive in the library with less than 30 minutes to complete the activity. It had to be a craft that could be completed in one sitting and easy for all the grade levels. I found instructions for an origami cube which is made with six pieces of origami paper. That was doable in the time frame. Then I found instructions for an infinity cube that is made up of eight cubes. I figured that everyone could make at least one cube, and those who were interested could make eight and end up with an infinity cube. For these types of activities, I usually pull out the iPads and give the students a QR code to find the instructions. That never really works very well, so this time I copied the pictures from the websites and made an easy to follow sheet for the one cube and then the infinity cube. It took much longer than I anticipated for the students to make the one cube. So no one finished eight cubes in one lunch period, but I kept the materials available for the students. I have a 9th grader who is one cube short for his infinity cube, and a sixth grader who finished hers. Then there are other students who are in the process of creating eight cubes. The students who participated, and there were many, loved the colorful paper and the task even if they only made the one cube.

All team members sitting in one chair

Team members in the air

Team members in the air

Oh no, a meteor is approaching

For the last activity in the library, I scoured the Internet for ideas of a game or scavenger hunt using a phone or tablet. I have done something like that before, but I wanted it to be different. I finally found a photo/video scavenger hunt that I adapted to fit our situation. It was a huge success during 6th/7th grade lunch and 8th/9th grade lunch. The older high school students could not be bothered; I guess that it was too much work for them during a lunch period. The students had to form a group of three or four and take enough photos or videos to reach 1800 points. When the team showed me what they did to earn the 1800 points, then all team members could take a prize from the basket. I created this form for the students to use. I had iPads ready for those who needed them, but I let the students use their own phones if they chose. It was great when they used an Apple device because they could air drop a copy of the photos that they took to me. Some outlandish  photos and videos were captured. For the students who participated, it was a real crowd pleaser.

Origami cubes continue after TTW

I had one more activity online that I thought would be fun, and I got the idea from the Facebook Future Ready Librarians group. Someone had posted that she created a bulletin board with the first page of about 30 YA novels and classics. The students had to figure out the title of the book. She did not give a list of titles and neither did I. Because I don't have the wall space to create a display, I created a Google Form with name, grade, email, and then screenshots of the first page of 20 novels. I had gone to Google Books to find the first pages, and it was easy to capture a screenshot. I had never used the quiz function with Google Forms before, so I set the form to grade everyone's answer. Since the answers were text, and the answers I listed were case sensitive (unfortunately that is the only way to do it in Forms); I had to list all the possible answers for every title. Diary of a Wimpy Kid could be written many ways with letters in caps or not in caps. However, I still had to go through the answers because some of the misspelled or missed capitalized words were scored as incorrect. I was disappointed with only 40 responses, but it was the first time that I had done a quiz online for TTW. I think that some students must have gotten frustrated with it and quit before finishing. I didn't think that it was hard, but the students said it was.


You can find lots more pictures of the week on the library website here
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