Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Fav YA Reads for 2011

When I was at the AASL conference in October, I talked to a university professor who is on YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee. She explained to me that she reads a book a day. Wow! I did know that all members of the BFYA committee are expected to read over 300 books a year, but I just couldn't finish a book every day. I love to read. I love reading YA titles, but I just don't think that I have the time to read that much. I average 50 titles a year. I admit that some days I just don't feel like reading. Other days I read for several hours. I am going to start reviewing books for Library Media Connection and School Library Journal. I hope that I can meet their deadlines.

This is the time of the year when everyone seems to be making best of and worst of lists. I tried to avoid it because I did not want to be cliche, but I like to reflect. Even though I probably mentioned some of these titles in this blog over the year, I want to give another plug to some of my favorite authors and titles that I read in 2011.

Bookmarked, my high school book group, is part of the YALSA YA Galley program. So we are sent boxes and boxes of books. The kids get excited every time a new box arrives, but the boys usually walk away disappointed because all the new titles seem to be geared for girls. (Publishers did you hear this? We need more books with teenage boy appeal!) Several of my favorite reads this year had male protagonists and would definitely appeal to boys. I loved John Corey Whaley's Where Things Come Back. The small town setting, the cast of hilarious characters, and the idea that the search for a woodpecker would be more important than the search for a lost boy was intriguing. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi was the Printz winner for the year, and if I had been on that committee, it would have had my vote too. It is about a dystopian world where no one ever heard of child labor laws, as the kids are sent in to strip old ships to mine them of valuable materials. Another title that I enjoyed that would appeal to boys was the end of the trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, Goliath. I thought it was the best of the three, and I love the stories that give the reader an alternate history like he does with World War I. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel, which tells the story of Victor Frankenstein's life as a teenager was a gothic adventure that could have been written hundreds of years ago.

I am amazed with all the dystopian stories that authors keep churning out that they can offer a new perspective on a future that we hope never happens. I read the first book in two new dystopian series and loved them both. One was Delirium by Lauren Oliver. In this future, everyone must take the cure for love when they reach 18 years of age. Lena can't wait for the cure until she meets Alex and finds out that feeling the passion of love is amazing. Then there is Divergent by Veronica Roth. In this story Tris, now 16, must choose the group in which she plans to live. Does she stay with her family or leave the group that nurtured her to find her true calling in life? It is an extremely hard decision for someone of that age. I also read Matched and its sequel, Crossed, by Ally Condie in 2011. Matched was amazing, but the second in the series not so much. I am hoping the third book will make it all worth it.

I also want to mention Gary Schmidt's Okay for Now. It just so happens that Doug in the story was born the same year as I was. This really was one of my very favorites that I read this year, but as it is historical fiction, my students have not had a lot of interest. I recommend it all the time, though. My other very favorite of the year was Shine by Lauren Myracle. It is so different from her other works. It tells a harsh story, but in such a beautiful way. Since my book group got to meet Lauren at the ALA conference this summer, they all got signed copies of Shine. They liked the book as much as me.

There you have it. It is not a definitive list, nor an authoritative list. I read books to feed my soul, and these books did the trick. I can't wait to see what awaits me in 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My First Contribution to School Library Journal Extra Helping

Last week, I was asked to type up 200 words describing the books that my middle school students were reading for fun. It was published in the online newsletter, Extra Helping, that School Library Journal publishes every other week. Open the link below and scroll down to find out what the middle school students at PFTSTA love to read:
What Are They Reading for Fun?: Middle School Edition

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fourth Graders Visit PFTSTA for Science Extravaganza

It's not often that we see 35 little ones sitting on the floor in the PFTSTA Library

It has been almost nine years since I was an elementary school librarian. I miss the beautiful picture books, and the way I could hold a class of 32 kids in the palm of my hands as I told a gripping story. Luckily, we have an event every year that gives me the opportunity to ham it up and be silly in front of a group of kids. 

Each semester, Mrs. Higgins, the seventh grade science teacher invites the 4th graders from Metairie Academy to visit PFTSTA. The students spend 45 minutes engaged in the experiments that the 7th graders created, and then they spend 45 minutes with me. I have two fabulous books by Steve Jenkins that I have used for three different Extravaganza events. The non-fiction books, Bones and Actual Size, are huge with amazing pictures and the science fits right into the event. You can see me on the right reading to the students. 

Once I read the books, my 8th grade helpers use the interactive white board and quiz the audience on the information found in the books. All members of the audience received a learner response device, so they could take the quiz electronically. The answers to the questions all came from the two books that I read aloud. I had two sessions of 45 minutes each. When it was over, I remembered why I moved to the upper grades. It is hard work entertaining a room full of 9 year olds. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What do the PFTSTA Students Want for Christmas?

I received a bunch of multiple copies of brand new books from a library that could not use them. I wanted to give them away as prizes, so I ran another email contest for the students. That way, I would be getting the books into the hands of kids as well as getting them to read their school email. I also went through some of the boxes in the library and found more books to give away. I had  a total of 31 books which meant ten percent of the student body would win a book.

I really like surveys. So I created a google form and asked the following questions.: What electronic device do you want for Christmas, be realistic or dream a little either way is correct?; What device do you want to give your family for Christmas?; What device do you want to give your friends for Christmas?; and finally, What device do you want to give your teachers for Christmas?. I am so proud of the students at PFTSTA; by reading their responses, you can tell that they put a lot of thought into it. Even though they were asked for a one or two word answer many of the students made some interesting comments.

One student wanted, "a device for his family where we would always be connected."
Another student would "give my friends headphones, gift cards that they could use ON their electronic device. I suppose it just depends."
One sixth grader remarked, "I think the teachers need APPLE LAPTOPS! Down with the Dell! Haha!"
A ninth grade girl says that she wants this for her friends, "Canon cameras because that has been at the top of everyones wishlist this year.
I love this idea for the teachers from a senior, "An e-reader with a complimentary book, The Case Against Homework."

I used my new favorite word cloud creator, tagul, to collate the responses.

All the students want for 2011 Christmas:

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All the students want to get for their families: 

All the students want to get for their friends:

All the students want to get for their teachers: 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review of a New Fav Title

I picked up Mrs. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs on a fluke. I had seen it listed on the best seller list, but I really didn't know much about it except that it included some unusual photographs. The author found some old black and white photos from various collections to enrich the story. Each photograph portrays one of the many cast of unusual characters that reside in this book.

Jacob adores his grandfather and has listened to the stories that his grandfather tells about his childhood in the children's home as if they were fairy tales. It is not until his grandfather dies that he learns the truth. His parents don't understand, but allow him to travel with his father to find the children's home on an isolated island in Wales. Jacob is astounded by what he finds on the island of his grandfather's youth, and you will be too.

I am not a fan of horror, and I guess you could say this has a tinge of horror or the grotesque to it. I say this is a story of magical realism that you want to believe. I adored the peculiar children, and I anxiously awaited the description of each one.

The story doesn't tie up all the loose ends. I am not sure if a sequel is planned or if the author just wanted the reader to decide what happens next to the children. Either way I recommend this highly unusual book.

Check out the book trailer created by the publisher Quirk Books.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Need Help Selecting a Book?

Not everyone likes to read the same kinds of books. Selecting what to read next can often be an arduous task for some, especially those reluctant readers. I encourage all students to read, and if technology is king in your home, then there are some great new tools that can be used to tie the Internet to books. You can use these tools for book recommendations or even help with book selection for holiday gifts.

Author, James Patterson, believes students must be good readers to find successful careers, and I agree with him. He is all about finding books that mean something to you. He has created a website called Read Kiddo Read to recommend good books for students.

Barb Langridge has created  a phenomenal website about books called A Book and A Hug. The website may have an elementary look about it, but she has lists of good books for tweens and teens. There are also some great author videos that your child might like. 

StorySnoops was created by four moms in California. They read extensively, and you can search their site by age level, genre, author, title or recommended books. For lists of good titles for tweens and teens you can find it on their website. 

Scholastic has created a site called You are What You Read. Find out what five books have shaped the lives of authors and celebrities and log in the five books that shaped your life. 

I recently found a literature mapping tool. You type in an author’s name, and the screen fills with names of many authors. The placement of each author is based on how similar the writing is to the author you typed. It is hard to explain because it is very visual. You can use it for all ages. It is a lot of fun to watch the author's names move across the screen every time you type someone new in the box. 

I have one more site that I recently found. It is called Small Demons. I imagine that the name is some literary reference, and if you know what it means please let me know. The idea at this site is to list books and add all the references that are made in this book like music, movies, food, people, places, etc. Members will be able to add and edit the books. It turns a book of printed words into a very visual form. This one just got started so the number of books is limited, but it will grow. 

Have fun and check out some of these websites. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Voting Opened for Edublog Awards

The polls have opened for the annual Edublog Awards. I was shortlisted again this year for best librarian blog. You can vote once a day until December 14th. Open here to enter the voting booth.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Presenting at LACUE 2011

On Wednesday, November 30th, Kelly Maher, Lisa Valence and I were scheduled to present at the LACUE conference. We titled our presentation: Preparing Students for the Future: Tools for Teachers and for Teaching Teens. We were to begin at 1PM which was the last hour of the conference. When we walked into the room for the noon session right before ours, there was one person sitting at the presentation. UGH! We really didn't want to present in front of a party of one. When I began to hook up the computer and get ready for our marvelous multi-media powerpoint that we created, people started to walk in. Whew! We were going to have an audience after all. About 20 people attended our session. Kelly began the session by thanking them for joining us for the very last hour. We got several compliments when we were done. We put together a wiki with all the sites that we mention in our talk and more. Open it up and check it out, you might find something new to try with your students.
Lisa Valence, Kelly Maher, and Elizabeth Kahn
LACUE November 2011

I am at the beginning of my presentation 
when I talk about the physical size of the library.

Highlighting the 2011 TEAMS Award Winners

When Lisa Valence and I heard that we won the Gale TEAMS Award in September, we thought that we would receive $2500 and that would be it. Who knew this was an honor that would keep on giving and giving, even several months later. Gale Cengage sent us to the American Association of School Librarian's Conference in Minneapolis in October and held a reception there in our honor. We have a year's subscription to Library Media Connection magazine, and we are waiting to receive the cash award along with $500 in Gale products and some Linworth products, too. Library Media Connection asked us to write an article for their magazine describing the collaborative project that we submitted for the award. 

The icing on the cake is this marvelous video that Gale had produced about Patrick Taylor Academy and the project that we designed to teach the social studies research paper. The video was shown at the Gale booth in the exhibit hall during the AASL conference (over and over again). It was also played during the ceremony where we officially accepted the award and made acceptance speeches. 

Now, you have a chance to see this video. Click below to open and view. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

LACUE Award Winner

Region I winners for LACUE
I am standing on the far right

On Tuesday, November 29th, I accepted an award from the Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators. They gave me the Region I Educator of the Year Award. There are 8 regions in the state of Louisiana. I applied for the Leader of the Year Award which is designed for non-classroom personnel who exhibit exemplary use of technology for teaching and learning. The best candidate overall is selected as each region's Educator of the Year. I was excited to win that, then one person from each category is selected as the state winner. Okay, I wanted to win state, but you can't win everything.  I won the lovely certificate that you see me holding in the picture below and bragging rights too. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Field Trip to the Ninth Ward with 7th Grade

On November 18th, the seventh graders took the bus down to the Ninth Ward in New Orleans to explore Lanesha's world from the book, Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes. The students took pictures, video and audio of what they saw and did. They will be making movies after the holidays to share with an English class in Van Meter, IA. I took a lot of pictures, too. I wanted to remember the trip with a map so I used Tripline to document what I saw. You can view my tripline below as a slideshow just hit play and sit back and relax or you can click through each stop and open the pictures individually. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Time for the 2011 Edublog Award Nominations

I have to admit that I don't get to read as many blog posts that I would like. I am scattered as I follow people here and there to see what they are posting, and there just isn't enough time in the day. I might not read a blog on a consistent  basis, but I know when I am looking for a certain tool or reference or idea I know who might have the answer. The following are my nominations for the 2011 Edublog Awards.

Best individual tweeter: At BLC (Alan November's institute) that I attended this past summer, I met some super star librarians. Shannon Miller was one of those stars. She has accomplished so many connections using twitter. I am in awe of her use of the media: @shannonmmiller.
Best ed tech / resource sharing blog: I met Lisa Nielsen, The Innovative Educator, at BLC. She was a former librarian now in the educational technology department for NYC. She has some great ideas of how to utilize technology as a teaching tool and is all about sharing. Find her blog here:
Best twitter hashtag: I am a librarian, so #tlchat works best for me.
Best teacher blog: Tinashe Blanchet and I have been trading tech tools and tips for years now. She has been developing her blog over the years. It is awesome:
Best librarian / library blog: There are several that I like; I can't choose just one.
Best free web tool: I have become a real fan of this tool: I create shouts, and the students love being able to shout back at a teacher. They have told me some great things through this tool.
Best educational wiki: Gwyneth Jones is an amazing librarian who has created this wiki as a one stop shop for her library: I love all the illustrations.
Best open PD / unconference / webinar series: I have attended several webinars presented by Michelle Luhtala on I even got to meet her at two conferences that I attended. She hosts the series: Emerging Tech: Using Technology to Advance Your School Library Program. She has so many good ideas and is great at sharing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jeff Kinney Webcast

On November 15th, the 6th graders all gathered in one room to see Jeff Kinney launch his newest book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever. He was at the Banks Street School In New York in front of an auditorium of 8 to12 year olds. There were over 800 schools around the county who joined the event via the computer like us. 

The video of him talking was shown in a small window on the screen that I could not enlarge. This frustrated the kids, but I had not control over it. He explained how he got started in the book biz and some of the motivation for his work. He also showed a lot of his illustrations. Luckily, the pictures were slides that we could enlarge for viewing. I especially like the "Reading is Fun" that you see on the right. 

 Half way through the presentation he introduced the two boys, Zachary Gordon and Robert Capron, who play the lead characters in the Wimpy Kid movies. The boys talked about their experiences in making the movie and fielded some questions from the audience.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Skyping in the Field

The A marks where we were standing during the Skype session

Today the 7th graders, two English teachers, the PE teacher who drove the bus and myself headed down to the Ninth Ward. The students had read Jewell Parker Rhodes' book, The Ninth Ward. The students have also teamed up with a 7th grade class in Van Meter, IA. They have been communicating with these students via Edmodo. Today on the field trip, we skyped using my iPhone with the students in Iowa. We asked six of our students to be the eyes and ears for the students in Iowa. We showed the Iowans some of the Make It Right Houses built from the foundation that Brad Pitt created. The kids in Iowa asked us some questions. Most of these questions centered on the students' personal experiences during Hurricane Katrina. It was a great experience. I have more pics to share in later posts. Below you can see us skyping with the phone. 

Yes, 3G works in the field. It is not an ideal way to Skype, but we got our point across and were able to share New Orleans with the students in Iowa. The Patrick Taylor students used iPads to film today's journey and will create movies to share with Van Meter. 

We had to huddle around the phone to hear the Iowa students'  questions

Thursday, November 10, 2011

If you could be any character in a book, what book and who would it be?

We need the students to read their email every day;  it is a part of the culture of the school. However, the students do not always comply and read their messages. Periodically, since school began, I have had an email contest to get the students to read their email. I send out a message to all the students after school hours. The email details the rules of the contest and how the students should respond.

After the AASL conference I came home with so many t-shirts that I decided that the shirts would make great prizes for a contest. I set up a google form for the students to use to respond. The students needed to tell me what book character they would be if they could choose anyone from a favorite book, and they also had to tell me why they selected that character. Twenty percent of the student body responded, and all of the answers were very thoughtful.  Below is a word cloud from Tagul (a new tool that I just found today) that I created as a visual representation of the students' answers.You can see some of the traits that they admired in the character, some of the names of the characters, and titles of some books that were listed multiple times.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This is Why I Love My Job

Below is a letter that I received from a student who moved away a couple of weeks ago. I knew that she enjoyed the library, but I did not realize that I had made such an impression on her. I love this letter.   It makes all that I do everyday worthwhile. By the way, I also love that I have a number one bookworm. To read the letter, you can click on it to view it in a larger size.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Finally, a Book Review

Though I have not been posting many book reviews, I have had lots to write over the last couple of months. You may think that I am not reading, but that is not the case. I have been reading some amazing books. It's just that I am doing so many other things that I want to blog that my book reviews never happen to find their way into print.

During AASL in Minneapolis, I was invited to an intimate luncheon courtesy of Little Brown. (Thanks, Victoria, lunch was delicious.) The luncheon was the debut of Kelly Barnhill, a Minnesotan author, and her first book, The Mostly True Story of Jack. This is the book that got me through my plane ride home. The story has a male protagonist and is geared for the middle school student. I love having a strong story about a boy for this age level.

Jack is dumped at his Aunt and Uncle's house in Iowa. His parents live in California and believe with their impending divorce that Jack is better off  in a small town for the summer. The minute he arrives, Jack realizes that Hazelwood and his aunt and uncle are a bit unusual. Jack was used to being invisible. Once he arrives in town, he is bullied, makes friends which he never had before and learns that fairy tales are real.

I am not sure if you would classify this story as magical realism or an out and out fantasy. At the beginning of the story, Jack does not accept any of the magical elements that begin to creep into his life. He ignores them and feels disgust for his aunt and uncle who try to explain. As he reads the book that his uncle has written about the history of the town and sees first hand the changes in the house, the school house and those weird eruption points, he finally becomes a believer. Jack who doesn't believe in magic and never dreamed that he could be a hero learns more about himself in the short time that he visits Hazelwood than all his life in California.

I recommend this book to all the dreamers out there.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

News is Posted on District Website, It Took Long Enough

We have been waiting and asking that the district add the news of the Gale Teams Award to the homepage of the website. Finally, they did. Here is a link to the article on the Jefferson Parish Schools website:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

AASL and the Gale TEAMS Award

So much has happened in the last week. I don't know where to start. Attending the AASL conference in Minneapolis was a great experience. I have lots of ideas running through my head. I hope to implement some of them over the next couple of months. I need to make some decisions in my library on how to spend money on electronic books. I have a collection of over 350 reference in electronic format, but I want to start purchasing non-fiction titles that the students would use as supplemental material to their textbooks. During the conference I talked to Rosen Publishing about their ePoint Books and Follett about their Follett Shelf, and of course I can always add to to our existing Gale Virtual Reference Library.

There are some super-star librarians out there who are doing amazing things. Listening to them talk about all that they do means that some of them must never sleep. I got to meet a few of them during the conference, and I was really inspired by the information that they presented. I attended a session on emerging leaders, and this is a picture of some of those women taken during that session.

Library Leaders from left: Gwyneth Jones, Shannon Miller, Wendy Stephens, Laura Warren-Gross and Margaux DelGuidice
Really the highlight of the whole conference was the award reception held on Friday night at Crave Minneapolis. Gale and Library Media Connection put together an event where we were the stars. Check out this video that I made with pictures from AASL: some were from the reception on Friday night and others from the Gale booth in the exhibit hall; as well as pictures from PFTSTA; and some screenshots of the electronic resources that we used in the project that garnered us the award. The audio portion of the video are the acceptance speeches first from myself and then from Lisa Valence the English teacher who collaborated with me.

We were on a high when we returned to the hotel after the Gale event. A librarian from Minnesota walked with us because she wanted to bend my ear. She works in an elementary school, and I really don't think that I had the answers that she needed about getting her students using the databases. The picture below was taken at the Hilton from left to right is Lisa Valence, myself, and Ruth Ann Nadeau from New Orleans who inspired me to be a librarian in the first place.

None of the pictures that we took at the reception were very good. The lighting was low, and even though we tried with several cameras all the pictures were dark with an orange cast. The next day we went to the Gale booth in the exhibit hall and got a picture taken there with the big check that was bright and clear. The screen behind us shows the first scene of the video that Gale showed in the booth throughout the conference as well as during the reception. Holding the check from left to right are Chris Posa from Gale, Lisa Valence and myself.


Enough already with the pictures of me. I think that I need to find some new subjects. Like maybe my students!



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Minneapolis Bound

Can't wait until tomorrow. I will be heading to the AASL conference to enjoy the wisdom of all the other school librarians whom I will meet. I am also going to receive the Gale TEAMS Award for Middle School. Hope to have lots of pics and video to show you afterwards. This conference is one of the best because it is the only national conference that is geared towards school librarians. The only sessions that really don't interest me are the ones for the elementary level. Years ago those were the only sessions that I attended. Can't wait, and I will be ready for the cold weather.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Teen Read Week was a Big Success!

The students flooded the library every day at lunch during Teen Read Week to enjoy all the activities Bookmarked, the high school library book group, and I had planned for them. This year more books than ever were returned during fine forgiveness week.
Student adding to the Wall of the Future
Highlights of the week included the Tweet chat with Tiffany Trent on Monday; the game called The Picture is the Clue, do you Know the Answer with a small candy as a prize; guess the number of Sour Patch Kids with five winners getting a signed book by Heather Brewer; and the Wall of the Future, where students pictured themselves 20 years in the future. The bookmark contest will end on Wednesday the 26th. I am waiting for the students to submit their entries.

Check out the library website to see all the pictures. Pictures of the winning bookmarks will be posted next week.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Found on the Wall in the Library

I came back in the room the other day, and found this hanging on the wall in the library. One student said to me, " I want to sign up, but I don't where the room of requirement is located." 
Love it! Harry Potter just keeps giving and giving and giving. 

Keep Reading!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Teen Read Week is Here!!!!

Books from the Hallowmere series by Tiffany Trent

To kick off Teen Read Week, we invited author Tiffany Trent to chat with us. We logged onto Twitter and spent 30 minutes conversing back and forth. One student manned the computer. Other students asked questions. There were students in and out of the library who followed along for a few minutes here and there.

All in all it was a lot of fun. We found out that she has a new book coming out and one that she is working on. We shared some of our fav books. Sometimes it was a bit disjointed, but it worked. If you want to see our conversation search for the hashtag #TRW11chat.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Webinar with James Patterson

On Thursday, October 13th the 7th graders, Ms. Bordelon and I  joined 1100 other schools to watch a live presentation by James Patterson from Palm Beach, FL. He was in the auditorium of his son's middle school with several hundred students in attendance. He was there to talk about his new book, Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life. The event took place during our lunch period, so all the students were munching during the presentation. Since Mr. Patterson could not see us or hear us, it was not an issue.

His message about reading was right on target. He believes that all kids need to read and read well. Good readers will have more choices in life and end up with better careers. He said to read like your life depended on it. If you want to be a good writer, then you must READ!

He said that kids need to find good books that will engage them. Besides his titles, he also recommended the Percy Jackson series, Warrior series, Book Thief, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret. He said that Book Thief is a very complicated story but worth the read. He has created a website to help you make good book choices. Check it out here:

I was pleased that the PFTSTA library had all the books that he suggested as good reads.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Logo for the Library

The students in the digital graphics class are required to create a logo for one of their first assignments of the year. The teacher likes every member of the class to get an actual client so that the assignment is as real world as possible. I have a logo for the PFTSTA Library that I have been using for years. However, if a student brings me something outstanding, then I would gladly adopt it. This year two students created logos that I might want to use. 

What do you think of these two? I would love to hear your opinion. 

This first one is from Dylan who used books to spell out the school initials:

Brandon manipulated the school logo and used the tiger interacting with a book to represent the library. He had text in his logo.After going back and forth with me and the teacher many times, he decided to take the text out of the equation:
Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Teen Read Week - Begins October 17th

It's that time of year again. Mid-October means Bookmarked and I have been planning Teen Read Week activities for the PFTSTA students for weeks. As always we have games to play at lunch, online activities, and the annual bookmark contest. You can see it all here:

Last year we were lucky to have author, Scott Westerfeld, visit and kick off TRW. There was no way to top that, but I have planned an author event to kick off this year, too. Most of the students are not familiar with the workings of Twitter. So I have planned a twitter chat with author, Tiffany Trent. She visited PFTSTA several years ago, and she made a wonderful presentation to the whole student body as well as conducting a writing workshop with an English class. The students loved her energy. I have been planning to book a virtual visit for at least a year. I finally did it. 

If you want to join our chat, it will be held at 12:30PM CDT on Monday, October 17th. The hashtag is #TRW11chat. It should be a lot of fun. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Skype with Naked Brothers: Nat and Alex Wolff

On Friday, October 7th, the 6th and 7th graders were invited to bring their lunch to room 204 and meet Nat and Alex Wolff via Skype. The boys  were on an anti-bullying campaign and Skyped with classrooms around the country to talk about it. Even though they are famous and had a show on Nick, they had trouble from kids at their old school. They believe kids need to ignore the bullies and be themselves.

 Music is a big of their lives. They write songs and perform. They have a new album coming out next week called, Black Sheep. They shared a song from that album and had the kids dancing and singing along. They also talked about some of their other passions like soccer and writing.
Watch the video and enjoy the Naked Brothers visit to PFTSTA:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Get Reading 8: an Interview with Heather Brewer

This episode highlights the work of author, Heather Brewer. She is the author of the Vladimir Tod Chronicles and the Slayer Chronicles. Within this episode is an interview of the author during a visit that she made to PFTSTA on September 28, 2011.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Scholastic Art and Writing Awards is Open for Submissions

I was asked to pass this along: 

"We are excited to announce the Southeast Louisiana Writing Region affiliate of the Alliance of Young Artists & Writers will host the second annual Scholastic Writing Awards of Southeast Louisiana. The non-profit organization, sponsored by the Greater New Orleans Writing Project, will administer the prestigious Scholastic Art & Writing Awards to outstanding young writers across Louisiana. Through the success of last year’s competition, we were able to fund scholarships for students to attend summer writing programs and issue the top winners more than $6,000 in cash awards. For almost 90 years, the Awards have helped identify, motivate and validate talented 7th-12th graders across the United States. It is our job as your regional affiliate to facilitate the regional competition and awards ceremony and help our young writers, along with their teachers and parents, through the process.
Teachers and counselors: please keep this opportunity in mind! You need not respond to this mailing for your students to be eligible. ALL students are eligible, and this year, our affiliate will cover all submission fees. So, there’s no cost to enter! Go to for more information..."

Brad Richard and  Catherine Tanguis
Co-Directors, The Scholastic Writing Awards of Southeast Louisiana

Students can begin to submit work for the contest now.
Register here:
Here are the deadlines:
ART DEADLINE: 1/06/2012

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Heather Brewer Rocked at PFTSTA!!!

The 8th and 9th graders were blown away when Heather Brewer began talking at 9:30AM, Wednesday the 28th. She called all the teens in the room her minions. She believes in "world domination." With world domination, she and her minions could change the world to be a more accepting place. A place where there would be no bullies and everyone is accepted for who they are whatever that may be. Heather Brewer knows bullies, as she was not treated well by her peers in school.

One of the students said it was the best author visit ever, and two teachers said the talk was awesome because Heather was so real. She spoke with honesty from the heart, and the students could relate. There were many hugs when she arrived and even during her talk. One student couldn't contain herself when she found out that Green Day was one of Auntie Heather's fav bands. She ran up for some love, and Heather was extremely accommodating.

The main character in the Vladimir Tod Chronicles is a vampire. No, she did not begin writing this series to ride the tide of the Twilight phenomenon. She has been a big fan of horror ever since her teen years when she did a lot of reading in the genre. She loved Bram Stoker's Dracula. When one of the students asked if Heather liked Twilight, Auntie Heather had a lot to say. She thinks that the values for girls portrayed in the series is not what she would want for her daughter. It is not okay for some guy to stalk you or hang out in your bedroom and watch you sleep. No girl needs an Edward to protect her because with "girl power" any girl can do whatever they set their mind to do. 

After the presentation, she sat down for a book signing. A handful of students would not leave the cafeteria. They hung out and chatted for as long as I would let them. They were thrilled to be basking in Auntie Heather's energy. I couldn't believe it. We had a record five authors visit us at PFTSTA last year. I saw nothing like the love that  the students gave to Heather yesterday. Heather, you really do rock.

The visit ended with a taped interview. The president of Bookmarked, the high school book group, sat down with Heather to film some Q and A. I am going to use it in my next episode of Get Reading, digital book talks for teens who love to read. Be on the look out soon for a link to this episode. If you are a Heather Brewer fan, you will want to see it.

(By the way, the cool dress that she is wearing comes from Japan.)
Thanks Penguin Teen and Octavia Books for this amazing event!
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