Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Time

I am off for two weeks. Usually, during this time I read up a storm. However, I have been doing more socializing than reading these days. It is something that I feel is important to my psyche. I brought home a huge stack of books from school. I figured that I would only read what really catches my interest. So if I start something and don't like it, then I have another to take its place.

I read another Kathe Koja novel, Kissing the Bee. Love her work. Her books are short, but they pack a punch. I wish I could write so well.

I am plowing my way through a fantasy called Flora Segunda by Ysabeau Wilce. It came out about two years ago to rave reviews. Not too many of my students were interested, so I started reading it to see if it was a book that I could push. I just looked for the author's name on line and found out that there are two sequels! Anyway, the author uses a lot of made up words that stem from Spanish and English. at least I think that they do. I am feeling sort of dumb because maybe the words are Spanish words that I don't know. I like the story and think that it would make a great middle school read. I have to figure out a hook to push it, then purchase the second and third volumes.

For my adult book group next month we have to read an author who we have already read. The idea is to bring the book and share with book group. We keep trading around the books until no one is interested in reading the offered titles. I ordered the new Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna. It got great reviews, so I can't wait until it arrives.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Video Conferencing

First we skyped in the library, then we used the brand new PolyCom system for a video conference and skyped all in the same session. Today four schools: Riverdale, Bonnabel, Grace King, and Patrick Taylor all participated in a video conference. The presenters were Scott Walker from WDSU television and Bill Symonds from Harvard University, formerly of Business Week magazine. Scott Walker was live at Riverdale. He spoke to the students about life as a broadcast journalist. Then Bill Symonds spoke about being a print journalist via a skype feed set up at Riverdale. After that the students from each school were allowed to ask questions. My students liked the Q and A best.

The picture below gives the view that the students and presenters saw of Patrick Taylor via the Polycom system. That's me standing up and looking kind of goofy.

Here is a shot of Scott Walker live at Riverdale and Bill Symonds on Skype.

On Monday, my library book group used the new PolyCom system to talk with the book group at Higgins High School. The strange thing about the PolyCom system is that we could only view Higgins. We were not able to see ourselves, so we did not know what they saw of us. When someone was talking at Taylor, I did not know if the Higgins group could see the speaker. I can move the camera, but I don't know what the camera is "seeing."

Here is a photo of what we saw when we met with Higgins. They view the feed on a television, so that is why they are squeezed together on the sofa. You can see the PolyCom system  in front of the projection board.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I've Been Busy

It has been two weeks since my last post. I apologize. I try to post at a minimum weekly.

Let's see, first I had a birthday on the 2nd. It wasn't a milestone, so I won't mention any numbers here. Then I went to Baton Rouge for two days for LACUE (Louisiana Computer Using Educators) conference. I was disappointed with most of the sessions that I attended. I am so much more technologically advanced than what I was receiving at the sessions. I am not bragging, just stating the truth. Then I spent three days in bed with a fever. This past Saturday there was a flooding rain, and there you have the last couple of weeks.

Along the way I finished Hate List by Jennifer Brown. I really liked the premise. The book opens explaining the May 2nd school shooting by Valerie's boyfriend, Nick. Did Valerie know about the plan or was she just along for the ride? We learn a lot about Valerie by the end of the book, as it is told in her voice. The novel alternates chapters from the time of the shooting with the present when Valerie returns to school to face all the students that she had put on the hate list.

Forgiveness and redemption are part of the themes. The violence is only a means to discuss the themes. I recommend this as a high school read.
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