Tuesday, July 5, 2016

On Vacation and Looking for Libraries 2016

Enjoying my favorite garden by the marsh in Kennebunk, ME
I grew up in New Orleans, where I live now, and my parents have always lived here, too, Until after Hurricane Katrina flooded my father's house in 2005, and he and his wife moved up to Kennebunk, ME to live permanently. We have visited the area many times over the years, and last summer we toured around Vermont before landing in Kennebunk at the end of vacation. This year we decided to head north of Portland in Maine to visit Camden, Rockland, and Acadia National Park which we had never seen before heading to Kennebunk. 

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park
The coast of Maine is beautiful with its rocks, water, and quaint towns. New England has an ambiance that is so different from New Orleans. It helps that the temperatures during the day were in the 70's while it was blistering hot at home. Though New Orleans is home to wonderful food, we are quite fond of the lobster, clams, and scallops that are so plentiful in Maine. 

Lobster roll from Beals in Southwest Harbor
Last year, when we were in Vermont, I was so impressed to find public libraries in all the little towns that we drove through. I got a few pictures, but I did not capture every single one that we saw. This year, I decided to stop and capture the image of all the libraries that I found. Even though these libraries may offer limited hours, the towns do support them. We all know the importance of libraries in every community. Below are pictures of all the libraries that I found this trip. 

Cape Porpoise, ME (library is written between windows)

Somesville, ME (most picturesque spot of a library ever)

Bar Harbor, ME

Southwest Harbor, ME

Back side of library in Southwest Harbor, ME

Camden, ME (old section, entrance to modern section is right around the corner)
The other thing that I make sure to do on vacation is read. I wanted to take print books with me, so I picked the two thickest ones in my pile that I brought home from school. That way I would only need to take two books with me. We did have plenty of time to read this trip and these  books did not diappoint.

First I read Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes. I really wasn't ready to immerse myself in another fantasy series, but it had such good reviews that I decided to give it a try. It made for a great vacation read. I liked the story as told from the two different points of view. I also liked the fact that it seemed to take place long ago, but they had access to technologies that we only dream of. This seems to be a new trend, as I just finished Nimona where the characters live in a kingdom of long ago with quite advanced technology at their disposal. I know that the sequel to Tahir's book is out next month, and I can't wait to read it. My second book of the trip was the number two book in a duet. I didn't feel that I had to read Andrew Smith's sequel to Winger because I think that the book stands on its own. However, I love everything that Smith writes, and I wanted to see what he could do with the characters. I didn't think that Stand off  was as good as the first one, but I certainly enjoyed revisiting old friends. It get me engrossed and helped pass the time as our airplane sat on the tarmac for 60 minutes waiting for catering for an hour's flight. 

I love getting a chance to travel somewhere new and feel for even a brief time that I am part of this place. Now that July 4th has come and gone, I need to start thinking about the school year to come and my plans for making it another great year for the PFTSTA library.

Maybe something new for the library is right behind this door
(found on Lord's Point in Kennebunk)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I Feel Like I am Late to the Party

Kahoot was used as practice for the upcoming English III standardized test

Students were highly engaged in Kahoot

I consider myself on top of things when it comes to technology and education.Though there are many tools and tricks that I choose not to use, I try to be aware of what is new and hold it on the back burner to share with teachers in my building or eventually use it myself. Like Kahoot, I had heard about it and knew teachers that used it, but I thought that I didn't need it. Then we got a set of iPads that I could use with students in the library, and I thought that I would ditch the Activotes that came with the Promothean Board and try Kahoot. I am so glad I did because it has become a new favorite tool. I love the way that it ranks the students' answers on speed and accuracy and that the leaderboard can change from question to question so that the competition aspect of Kahoot completely engages even the most reluctant of students. 

Then there is BreakoutEDU. I first heard the word many months ago, but I had no clue what it was and didn't know if it was something that could be useful in the library. My finger must have dropped from the pulse of edtech because I truly did not understand that it could be used to teach the 21st century skills of critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and work ethic. On top of that, you can use it for any content area and students of all ages from elementary through high school. That makes it a very cool tool. During the Louisiana Library Association conference in March, I attended a session that was presented by one of my favorite people, Susan Gauthier, the library director of East Baton Rouge Parish schools. It was a session on BreakoutEDU. I still didn't know what I was getting into, but if Susan was sharing it, then I knew that I needed to learn its capabilities. She designed the Breakout to demonstrate how to use the high schools' online resources available in her district. This was the perfect scenario to share with other librarians.

figuring out the 3D maze
During her session, I saw how everyone in the room was engaged. I also saw how teamwork was needed if the box was going to be unlocked. When I returned to school after the conference, I immediately researched how to obtain my own box. Unfortunately, spring break happened, and the PO that we sent in to purchase the box just sat for a few weeks. Finally, my box arrived just as I began the two weeks of administering AP exams. this meant that I had little time to plan a Breakout. Last week, during the final full week of school, I was able to schedule with a 6th grade math teacher my first BreakoutEDU game. I chose The Lake House because inequalities was the theme of the game and was taught to the 6th graders. It was a blast, but I learned some things to make my next sessions run more smoothly.

trying to open the directional lock
I played the game with two classes of about 30 students each. I used all the clues that were provided online, but I did add another lock box. There were four locks on the box, two locked boxes, three math problems on paper, one problem on line, and the clue for the extra box. I also threw in a red herring which I told the students could happen. I did think that it is possible to have the whole class working on the clues for one box. I would say at any given time 80 to 90 percent of the students were engaged, but there was not enough for everyone to do for the full 45 minutes. I plan to order another box, so that I can run two games at one time with 15 to 17 students each working on the game. That way it can be a competition of which team can unlock the box first. Also, I learned very quickly to remove the clues that had already been used. Students would just leave the clues on the tables and walk away whether they had solved them or not. This made it confusing for the others who would come behind them to know if the clue had been solved. I just gathered the items and put them in a bin. This worked well if I had another group coming to play a game because everything would be in one place ready to be used again. I also laminated all the paper clues so that the students could use dry erase markers to solve the problems. I even made sheets of scratch paper and put out pencils. Also, if I am going to do a math related game, I better make sure that the math equations are solvable. The teacher who created Lake House used 6 inequality problems for the directional lock. The answers offered four directions, but my students only had experience solving problems on the x axis. They did not understand how to plot their answers on the y axis. Both groups needed lots of guidance with these problems. The teacher of the class left the planning to me, but I should have checked with her first whether the students could actually solve the problems accurately. Students have to be discouraged from just trying to open the locks by guessing or looking for a pick. Also, students need to be encouraged not to give up. They would start the process of computing the answers and would quit without finishing. Needless to say, neither group made it out of the box in 45 minutes, and we did not have any time for debriefing. That is something that I would change immediately, and I believe is a very important part of the game.

success at opening a lock
School ends on May 25th, but my next Breakout is going to be for the day that I am subbing in our school''s Tinker Lab Camp. I thought that it would be a fun and different activity from the 3D printing, vinyl cutting and laser cutting that they are going to do during the rest of the week at camp. I look forward to trying it again with a game that has clues that I know will work.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Find our Finch on the Finch Robot Website

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted and asked if Bird Brain Technologies could use a picture that I took of my students' Finch robot running through a maze. The company were building a new website and wanted the picture for that site. I was flattered. My school has purchased two Finches, but I won a grant from Bird Brain Tech for the loan of twenty finches for three months. With this grant, I am able to keep one of the Finches for the library. 

Dueling Finches
The Finches are a robot with a very, very, very long cable that connects via USB to a computer. The students can use various coding languages to make the Finch do what they want. My students used Snap from UC Berkeley. You can see our Finch in action on their website here

Monday, May 16, 2016

Ahhhh, the End of the School Year is in Sight

We only have a week and a half left of the school year. How did this year fly by? This end marks my 35th year in the teaching profession and 25th as a school librarian. Really, how did that happen? Many, many moons ago when my confidence was way lower, I had not a clue if I could make it one more day much less all these years. The people who I have met, all that I have learned and all that I have given to my students over these many, many years, I would not trade with anyone. I am proud to call myself a teacher and a librarian and feel lucky to have a job that I love so much. 

Every year when April draws to a close, I find myself in stress mode with difficulty seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It is not the library that does it to me, but some of the extra hats that I wear at my school. My school only has 550 students, and unfortunately, I am needed to do some jobs that don't usually fall under the librarian's umbrella. For one, I am the school's AP coordinator. For most of the year, there is little to do. I don't mind. In March, we send out the registration forms for students to complete who plan to take one of the exams. This is an ordeal as students have to decide if they feel prepared to take the exam and can they get credit from their college for the exam. Many colleges and universities want to give their students a placement exam that they create like our state's flagship university does. Then I have to figure out how to schedule proctors for the exams, then administering each exam, and keeping all the exam material safely under lock and key and in good order. On Friday afternoon, I hit the UPS store with our completed AP tests on my way home. Boy, did that feel good.

The 39 graduates with the principal and assistant principal
Then there is graduation. That is my baby. I have been at my school since 2006, and we graduated our first class in 2009. No one stepped up to handle graduation, so I volunteered. That was a no brainer because the classroom teachers were dealing with the end of the year exams and grades. Taking over graduation was something that I could do easily. In 2009, we only had about 300 students in grades 6 through 12, and the library was a lot smaller with a lot less materials to oversee. I also coordinate the senior award night which includes writing the script for the event and making the program. I help the Val and the Sal edit their speeches. I write the script for the graduation ceremony. I make sure all the graduates are in place and ready to roll on the day of the ceremony. The strict timeline and the fact that the students don't always want to cooperate because the end is so near makes all these tasks an ordeal. 

We held our graduation this past Saturday.  As always, it was bittersweet. I am so proud of how the students grew from the naive 6th graders who entered our school seven years ago to the grown ladies and gentleman that they have have grown up to be. There are usually several students who I will miss a wee bit more than the others. That is who I want to talk about today. 

Mark is on the left and Cameron is on the right
These two boys entered Patrick Taylor as 6th graders. The last seven years have been hard work for them. They were not at the top of the class, they were not big readers so not really library kids, and they were not always friends. You can see that they are wearing the gold honor stole that show that they graduated with academic honors. One is going to school in New York, and the other will remain in town for school. Today, I heard Cameron bemoaning the fact that Mark will not be around for him to hang out with. When I mentioned that he could visit us at school, I was told that is not the same at all. I certainly understand that.

Both of these boys are extremely tech savvy. They were not afraid to try a new tool or new technology and would focus on it until they had mastered its workings. This was extremely helpful for me because I would just hand them something and ask them to figure it out and then have them explain it to me. Mark made it his mission to get the televisions around campus working with the program provided by the school board, and he researched diligently to find a tool that would allow us to manage the content on the TVs. His help with this will certainly be long lasting for the school. I often relied on his abilities for problem solving when the system went down. Both of these boys spent many hours in the school's new fabrication lab learning how to use the 3D printers, laser cutter, vinyl cutters, and the other tools. They assisted the teachers who used the lab with their classes, and their help has been immeasurable. I also enjoyed just chatting with both of them. I learned lots about technology and what was popular and what wasn't from them.

Though I will miss them terribly. I feel that they are prepared to begin making their own mark on the world that has nothing to do with Patrick Taylor Academy. That is why it so easy for me to get up every morning at 5:20AM and go to school everyday. Luckily, I have a two and a half months to recharge  before starting it all again. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Middle School Book Group Ends 2016 on a High Note

Final meeting of BRiMS, that 's me in white

Even though it was standardized testing week, I held our last regularly scheduled monthly BRiMS (Books Rule in Middle School) meeting on Wednesday during lunch. It seemed silly to cancel it since the students' lunch period was actually longer than usual last week. I liked the fact that I didn't have to cancel just because testing was being held in the morning--in some schools I would have to do so. We did have a lower turnout than usual, but I had been reminding kids about the meeting in emails, the daily school memo, and signage in the library. I do believe that the students need to learn how to take responsibility and keep track of meeting dates and times. Some forgot, some didn't read the book, and others just chose to go to the cafeteria for lunch.

This year, I finally found a rhythm with the way that I organize what we read for each monthly meeting. For half the meetings, there was an assigned book and the other meetings were set by some sort of theme be it genre or time of the year. I think that this method has worked well. There is a BRiMS page on the library website that announces ahead of time all books and themes and dates. After the meeting, I post a picture of the day and a blurb about our discussion to document the meeting. 

Let me first talk about reading around a theme. At the first meeting, students brought in a book they read over the summer and loved, and for April, they had to select a book written by a woman for National Women's History Month. The students like selecting a book that is meaningful to them as well as a book that they like reading. That is the positive. The problem when we read on a theme is that the students all read a different book. If all 30 members of book group attend, there is just not enough time for everyone to share. When one of the kids tries to tell the whole story of their selected book and goes on for 10 minutes, the other members of the group get restless. The discussion for that day needs to be lively and needs to keep moving from one person to the next. If everyone feels like they could contribute if they choose to do so, then I think it has been a good day for book group. It takes work on my part, and some discussions have been better than others, but I see it as a work in progress. 

Gummy worms were the perfect snack to eat while discussing Rump

For the four books that have been selected for the year, I try to do the selections way ahead of time. I have selected books based on a skype session with the author like I scheduled this year with Jen Calonita. I have selected books that I have bought as a set with Scholastic Dollars from my book fair. I have selected books based on students interests. It is hard to find a book that everyone likes, but we have had some great conversations about these books. Our discussions always start around the book, but I try to maneuver the topic so that all can have a say even if they have not read the book. This happened when we talked about memory after reading Sonnenblick's Curveball: the year I lost my grip. It also happened the other day when we read Shurtliff's Rump and discussed mash ups and retellings of old fairy tales. Publishers and authors often post reader's and teacher's guides that I find helpful when I lead a discussion. There was a great resource for Rump that I found on the author's website. I don't usually plan much for the discussion, and I usually have no guide. I like to ask a lot of questions, and that is the basis of the meetings. I start asking questions based on what I thought about after I read the book, and then we go from there. 

I have been leading school book groups in middle school and high school since 2003. I think that these groups offer an opportunity for kids who do not usually join clubs or organizations. I like not having too many rules, and I am always willing to go off topic if need be. It is a group that is suppose to be fun for everyone involved, even me. It is a way that I get to share my love of reading with a group who also loves to read. This is something every librarian can relate to!

Monday, April 11, 2016

More on Poetry Month 2016

In my last post, I mentioned that the high school book group wanted to create poems in the style of Mad Libs as an activity during lunch in the library. Neither the students nor myself really have time to spend creating these pages. Looking online, I found a site that allows you to input words, and then a poem is generated for you with the words that you entered. We tried it during today's Bookmarked meeting. The kids liked the outcome, and it will be fun to do on the interactive whiteboard with a large group of students. This is the link from Language is Virus blog to generate your own Mad Libs style poems

Below is the poem that the students made today: 

blue rock's blue rock

patiently i have never murder, floppily beyond
any wall, your cake have their round:
in your most evil eyebrows are things which annihilate me,
or which i cannot imagine because they are too flabulously

your crazy look gracefully will unfeast me
though i have break myself as crossbow,
you ride always nostril by nostril myself as TARDIS buffalo
(pronounceing lovely, quickly) her superfluous lie

or if your ice cream be to chomp me, i and
my fork will talk very morbidly, well,
as when the camera of this wall squat
the panda horribly everywhere stabing;

nothing which we are to backhand in this pokemon punch
the icebear of your cold weasel: whose blood
torture me with the ferret of its fez,
sniffing noun and spoon with each deduceing

(i do not incinerate what it is about you that mutilate
and eat; only something in me carry
the fetus of your cake is catlike than all TARDIS)
baby bottle, not even the sponge, has such hairy mr. spock

- Bookmarked & e.e. cummings

Create Your Own Madlib on LanguageIsAVirus.com

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April in the Library and National Poetry Month 2016

By the time April rolls around I am exhausted. We have just celebrated Teen Tech Week in the library, and I am gearing up for all the end of the year tasks that I do that don't happen to relate to the library. These tasks include preparing for the induction ceremony for the National Honor Society, completing duties as AP coordinator that take a huge amount of planning and logistics, assisting the val and sal with their speeches, and getting the script for graduation ready for the big day. The class of 2016 graduates on May 14th which is very early, and the last day for the rest of the students is May 25th. 

If I want to celebrate National Poetry Month, we need to design and plan easy to do activities that the students can handle themselves or that take little work from me. One thing that I will do is send out a poem every day of the school week via email. I am not a big fan of email blasts, but I am careful to put National Poetry Month in the subject line. That means the students and staff members know exactly what kind of email they are receiving. They can choose to read or delete as they see fit. Usually, I just put the text of the poem in the email. This year I decided to change it up a bit. On Friday, I sent out the picture that you see at the top of this blog post. One day last week, I sent out a link to make your own poems online with magnetic poetry words. I asked students to share with me the poems that they created via email. I did not get many, but you can see some of the results below.

by Lindsey, 9th grade

by Nile, 8th grade

by Tyler B., 9th grade

by Tyler H., 9th grade
I have asked the members of the high school book group to volunteer one day in a week to read a poem over the loud speaker during the morning announcements. I am not sure if that will happen because I have let them know that they need to practice. I also need to hear the poem before they perform it for the whole school. I am still waiting. 

The book group members came up with a great idea to make poetry mad libs and invite students in during lunch one day to play them. We were going to create them ourselves, but I think that we might find some online to download. I will let you know.

To end this post, I am going to share a poem that I student sent to me. She wrote it and thought that I would like it because it was poetry month. She has been reading her emails!

Unexpected Love
By Nina, 7th grade

People say that life
Is full of open doors.
I just happened to be
Curious and loved to explore.
I opened a strange door -
The one that led to you.
I fell into a wonderland,
And my heart fell, too.

I never knew that the
Stars could shine so bright.
I never thought to think
In the middle of the night.

I never knew how easy
It was to make me cry.
I never knew how easy
It was to make me smile.

Life is a mystery -
One for us to solve.
But for this case,
It was no mystery at all.

As time and life went further,
I knew that my heart grew.
I was sure of everything,
Because I fell in love with you.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Book, Movie, and Game Review Contest for Students 2016

For Teen Tech Week, I wanted to create some kind of contest where I would provide a grand prize. The contest would be designed to have students submit some sort of written piece, and then I would randomly draw two names for the grand prize winners, one from middle school and one from high school. I like the idea that the winners are selected randomly and that just by entering the contest all students had an equal chance to win. Thinking about it, I decided that I would ask the kids to submit a review of a book, movie, or game that they would like to recommend to their friends. I gave wide parameters of what they could review. The students had to submit one paragraph with a brief summary and one paragraph explaining why they would recommend the book, movie or game to their friends. I created a Google form for them to submit, so it was easy to share on the library website and in emails. The students chose from new and old and below is a pie chart showing what they chose to review. It was nice to see that 47% of the reviews were for books. 

Click on the image above to enlarge it and make it easier to read

I also asked the students to give "if you likes" about the book, movie or game. So, if you like action and adventure, then you would like the book that they reviewed. Here are the percentages of what the reviews were most like. 

Click on the image above to enlarge it and make it easier to read

Several students wrote multiple reviews, but I only published one review per child. You can read the reviews here on the library website. 

You will see that on the review page, I published a review by seventh grader, Julia Hutto, for Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. She submitted several reviews to me, and I wanted to share one with you here because it says so much about how books touch the lives of the children who walk through the doors of our libraries every day. 

The Harry Potter series:

"Harry Potter is about a miraculous adventure of a boy named Harry attempting to destroy the great Lord Voldemort. Harry finds out how his parents died, how he's actually a wizard, and what's up with the strange lightning bolt scar he's had on his forehead since before he can remember. While destroying the great evil that is Voldemort, Harry finds the meaning of friendship, the power inside of himself, and the importance of being brave. Can Harry manage to not only save himself but also the rest of the wizarding world? The fate of an entire world rests on the shoulders of a small boy named Harry who lives in a cupboard under the stairs.

I cannot begin to express the importance of this book series and the impact that it has had on my life. I have grown and learned with Harry, Ron and Hermione. Without this book series, I would not be a reader, and I would not have half the friends that I do now. I would not know what I would do or be without having known Harry Potter. And for that, I am eternally grateful. The story of Harry, what Ms. Rowling went through to succeed with this idea, and how amazing her life is now because of it is truly inspiring. As a huge fan of this book series, I can recommend it to anyone brave enough to take the adventure. Put on your cloaks, grab your wands, and get ready for the experience of a lifetime."
-Julia Hutto, 7th grade, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Teen TECH Week 2016 Brought Many to the Library

Sporting one of the prizes for the Fast Finger Search

Our school has grown exponentially since we moved into the new building three years ago. This year was the first time that three lunches were needed in the schedule. With three lunches, I have lost the ability to have the older students help with the activities for the 6th and 7th graders. While the 6th and 7th grade are at lunch the 8th-12th grade are in the middle of 3rd period and vice versa. Before we just flipped study hall and lunch for all students, so I could get the older students out of study hall to volunteer in the library for the little ones. Lunch everyday is a very long process. The 6th and 7th grade go to lunch at 11AM and the 8th graders don't finish lunch until 1:10PM. I am open every day for all lunches unless there is a class scheduled with me.

Selecting a signed ARC by last week's visiting author for his prize
Even though I would be sailing solo, I still wanted to have a robust slate of activities for the students, but I needed to design all events that I could easily oversee without extra hands. Since simplicity was the order of the week, it turned out to be one of the best Teen TECH Weeks (TTW) ever with at least 100 kids a day participating. I will say this about the week; I tried not to schedule many classes because it did take me time to set up each day before the students arrived for lunch and clean up after they left. 
Students watched the movie and ate their lunch for the kick off of TTW in the library
I started the week off with the traditional movie and a sweet treat. For TTW we always show animated shorts nominated for an Academy Award. Not all of these movies are appropriate to show at school, so I have to work with films from the current year and earlier to get 30 minutes worth of film. The 2016 winner, Bear Story, was a stunner. Students could bring their lunch to the common area outside of the library to watch the films on the huge televisions.

Supplies for the spinning tops
Happy with his creation

The finished product
There is always some craft project planned for TTW. Since this year's theme was "Create it at your Library," we had two days of crafts. The first was a spinning top made from a metal washer, wooden bead, bamboo skewer and washi tape to decorate the washers. The whole thing was put together with glue from a glue gun. This was a quick activity as the glue sets so fast, and almost every student finished their top during the lunch period. The inspiration for the tops came from the PBS website here. One student had a blast getting his top to spin on his finger, his watch, and a penny. These tops really worked.

She made a beautiful bracelet
Posing with her hand-made bracelet

For the other craft, students made beads out of duct tape and made bracelets. The tape was wrapped around a plastic straw and cut to form the beads. The beads were strung on hemp string and tied to a jump ring on the end of a clasp. Though the beads were very fast to make, it took the students awhile to string their bracelets. I had the students save all their unfinished pieces in a ziploc bag with their name so that they can finish next week. The inspiration for this activity can be found here

Coloring the sheet for augmented reality

Accessing the sword to defeat the dragon

One of our parents, who runs the Learning Lab, gave me the idea for using the Quiver app for augmented reality. I went to QuiverVision to download seven different sheets for the students to color. I gave them colored pencils because I thought that they were more sophisticated than crayons, and using markers might make it difficult for the augmented reality to work. With the app on the iPads, the students could scan their sheet and watch the image come to life. The bird could be made to walk across your hand, the dragon flies and breaths fire, and the fireworks shoot off the page and into the air. Though simple in concept, the students of all ages were enthralled. Some wanted to take home extra sheets for younger brothers and sisters, and with a free app, it would be easy for them to recreate the experience at home.

Fast fingers at work to find the answer

Students thought they could find answers faster on their phones

On the last day of TTW, we played a game that I called The Fast Finger Search. I came up with a list of research questions (with help from some 8th graders) from popular culture, science, books, movies, history, etc. for the students to answer. I had a set of iPads, but I let students use their own device if they chose. For each round, the person who found the correct answer the fastest was the winner. Even if they already knew the answer, I made them find it online to be fair to everyone playing. I had a variety of prizes that I had collected for the winner to select. Students really got into this game. I think that I could easily use it again with a new series of questions. If you want to try this out, I have the slides with all the questions for you below. Please feel free to use if you have the opportunity to play the game with a group of teens. 

Game of the Fast Finger Search from Taylorlibrarian

I have planned one other activity that won't be completed until midnight tonight. I am going to choose a grand prize winner from middle school and one from high school. The students had to complete a form with a review of a book, movie, or game that they recommend to their peers. I plan to post their reviews on the library website. I will put a link to it here in my blog later in the week if you want to read what they have to say. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Raymond Arroyo Speaks to 6th and 7th Graders

I got a chance to pose with Raymond Arroyo just before he left

A couple of weeks ago, Judith Lafitte, from the local independent bookstore Octavia Books, and I were lamenting the lack of authors for tweens and teens traveling to New Orleans this past year. Since 2010, Octavia has sent many authors to my school to make presentations to the students. In October, we had someone scheduled who eventually had to cancel due to a family emergency. We were crushed but certainly understood. Since there are only two and half months left of the school year, I thought that this would be a year of no face to face author visits. The day after that phone call with Judith, she sends me an email saying that Raymond Arroyo, a native New Orleanian, would be visiting the bookstore and wanted to do a school visit. 

Even though I had little time to prepare, and I was out of the building two days last week for a conference and ended up out of school a third day due to weather, we were thrilled to meet Arroyo on Monday, March 14th. He is on the national news, but I was not familiar with him or his work before this. Will Wilder is his first book for kids though he has written many for adults. I have no clue how people who hold a full time job find the time to write. It takes me hours to compose any of the writing that I do, and I can't imagine starting a book much less finishing it. 

Arroyo spent seven years on his research in preparation for this series. He likes to compose detailed outlines so that even though the first book took many years, he will be able to complete each subsequent book in the series in less than a year because of his extensive outlining. 

Will Wilder is an action adventure story with a hero who makes a tragic mistake and must figure out how to rectify it to save his town. This is just the kind of book that appeals to the eleven and twelve year olds in middle school. Arroyo spoke to the entire 6th and 7th grade at one time which included just over 200 students. Even though I was concerned that the students were not paying enough attention to the presentation, later that day, many of them came up to me to ask when the library copy of the book would be ready for check out. I was thrilled to hear the students get excited about a book after an author visit. That is exactly what I wanted to hear. 

I thank Judith for giving us the opportunity to meet Raymond Arroyo. 
The students at PFTSTA ♥ author visits! See more pictures of the day on the library website here

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