Sunday, December 30, 2012

Great Example of 21st Century Learning Part 2

This all began a couple of weeks before the holidays, but I have not had time to get it written down. It is such a wonderful example of 21st century learning that I wanted to share. A number of teachers have talked about asking students to create infographics to illustrate data. I was even helping 6th grade math students find websites to help them create graphs for an infographic project. The teacher just hadn't decided yet what the theme of the infographic would be, so curating sites on Sqworl was as far as they had gotten. 

In the meantime, a class of juniors and seniors taking AP Environmental Science were using the start-up Infogr.am to create infographics illustrating various environmental land-use issues such as flooding, national parks, etc which they had previously researched. I heard that the students were not happy with the online software, so I visited the class to tweet out the students’ issues to the makers of Infogram. I was surprised at the speed within which I got a response; it was within the hour. There were many tweets that went back and forth between us as I explained the issues that the students were having. However, in the end, the science teacher and students decided next time they would try a different program. Below is a picture showing the beginning of the storify that I created to document this discusssion, you can open to read the whole Twitter conversation.
Click here to open the storify that I created
The next week, a sixth grade class was learning how to create infographics. The students were using survey information from all the sixth graders for their infographic, like which is your favorite ice cream flavor. The teacher asked them to use Infogr.am or Easel.ly. Most of the students chose Infogr.am and loved it. Since the previous interaction with Infogr.am had been negative, I decided to tweet out the positive comments of the younger students to the makers of the software. I began by posting a picture of the students in action using the software. You can see it below. 


Infogram was so pleased to hear from us that they shared the pic around the office. The company's home is in Latvia, so I think that they are 8 hours ahead of us. Anyway, this time the Twitter conversation was very positive because the sixth graders really liked the software. The simplicity of it made it easy for them to use. From this interaction on Twitter, the teacher, librarian and founder of Infogr.am decided to schedule a skype session so the students could explain what they liked and what they thought needed improvement in the program. Before the skype began, the 6th grade teacher created a Google doc so the students and all the teachers could collaborate across the grade levels and share their thoughts with Inofgram. The librarian shared this doc with the founder of Infogr.am, Uldis. The teachers invited several older students from the environmental science class to join this skype session so they could express their concerns. It took a lot of communication between the teachers and librarian for this scenario to happen at all.

Here are some pics of the skype session that was held in Mrs. Maher's room on December 4th:





We learned from talking to Uldis that Infogram was conceived during the summer of 2011 and launched in February 2012. It is really young! Infogram  was created for journalists to use, so the program needed to be simple with a fast learning curve so infographics could be made quickly in the field. There are three people on the team in Latvia including Uldis. He is a graphic designer by profession and there is another designer and a programmer on staff. He said that he knew that templates were necessary for the software to work. So the designers could make it look pretty, and the programmer could make it work. It is now being used in education and science and the news industry. One of the senior boys involved said when the skype session was over that, “this has been the coolest day at Taylor.

21st century skills at work here:

Oral and Written Communication: Between teachers, librarian, students in multiple grade levels and the founder of Infogr.am.
Collaboration: Between teachers and librarian
Critical Thinking: Students had to assess what worked and didn't work with Infogr.am
Creativity: All the students created an infographic
Technology: Infogr.am, Skype, Google Docs, Excel, Twitter, Survey Monkey (data for 6th graders)
Real World Relevance: Students collaborated and communicated with the founder of an online software program to give him feedback on his product

I put together a video (filmed by a student) of bits and pieces from this skype session. We talked with Uldis for about 30 minutes, but the video is 10 minutes. You can view it below. 

Skype Session with Founder of Infogr.am 12.4.12 from Elizabeth Kahn on Vimeo.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Great Example of 21st Century Learning Part 1

During the last couple of weeks before the holidays, I participated in and watched two student activities that were engaging and demonstrated the 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity at a level that made me proud to work at PFTSTA. I am going to tell the story of one of these examples in this post and save the other for another post. 


All the Knowledge You Need to Survive College
by Allie and Tiffany

The top two students in the senior class were the only students taking Gifted Projects this past semester. In this course, they could design a project of interest to them that would carry them through the whole semester. Since they were both applying to a number of colleges, forefront in their minds was college and the process for taking the next step in their education. They seemed very confident about this process, but there was one aspect that both of them felt totally unprepared. They really thought their skills in cleaning and mending clothes, cooking, finances and budgeting, healthy living and decorating on the cheap were sorely lacking. They wanted to spend the semester creating a document that would give them and their friends all the tools to survive college outside of the realm of academics. 

Cover of book
When I heard about this, I immediately thought they needed to start curating websites. Most of their information was going to come from the web, so I thought that they needed a way to organize this info and access it quickly. I knew these girls would want it to look attractive so I ruled out Delicious and Diigo, both curation tools that I love. Pinterest would have been my tool of choice, but unfortunately it is blocked at our school. So I dug around and came up with Sqworl. I first explained to them what curation meant, and then I showed them several curation sites that might work for them. The teacher and the students all thought Sqworl would work best for what they wanted to do. If you want to visit their collection of websites, open here for their Sqworl. The next part of this project was the creation of a book offering a chapter on each topic for survival. I thought that this was a great idea, but when I saw the final project I was blown away. Inside they list tips for each topic and give links to some of the great websites that they found, but they also used QR codes so the reader could get to the links easily on a smart phone. Then one of the last days of school before the winter break, Allie came to me with her laptop open to a site that sells eBooks. It took some work to format it correctly, but they uploaded their work to a site so that their book would be available for a $7.99 purchase. What a great idea! Their teacher was familiar with the site, and she encouraged them to do it. If you would like to check this site out or purchase the book, open here

Critical Thinking: designed the project, decided topics of interest, decided what sites to feature and decided how to present what they learned to others
Creativity: chose a product, designed the product to make it user friendly
Collaboration: worked closely together to complete the project and collaborated with their teacher and librarian
Communication: made formal power point presentation at the end of the semester to a group of their peers and teachers, put together a written document, curated sites that could be shared, and  put the book up for sale in electronic format

Friday, December 21, 2012

Students Write Impassioned Letters to Lawmakers

I have mentioned in several earlier posts that in January the Louisiana state board of education (BESE) wants to amend Bulletin 741 that guides all school districts. My main concern with their changes to this document is the language about school libraries. In essence the document would no longer require schools to have a certified librarian on staff nor will schools and districts be required to provide a budget for library resources. It will now be only recommended, and districts would no longer need a waiver from the state to dismantle school libraries. I have written my own letter to all the BESE members, but I also asked the parents of my school to write to the BESE member who represents them. A parent sent me a copy of her letter, and I couldn't believe how supportive it was. An English teacher was so upset about these possible changes that she asked her 8th graders to use what they learned about writing a persuasive essay with logical and emotional appeals and write their own letter to BESE.

I only helped the students understand what BESE was doing; I did not tell them what to write and neither did the teacher. Some of the students thought the Board was cutting school libraries. So I had to explain that no, BESE is not actually making the cuts. These elected officials are going to leave it up to the superintendents and principals around the state to do that. People who did not need to be elected to hold their job. The students wrote their personal stories of what the school library has meant to their education. I think they did an amazing job. I have shared some of the best with you. Just click on each letter to enlarge it for easy reading. 
Click on the letter to enlarge and read
Click on the letter to enlarge and read

Click on the letter to enlarge it to read

Click on the letter to enlarge and read
If you would like to write your own letter, click here for BESE contact information. If you want to read the proposed revisions to Bulletin 741, click here. The section on school libraries is in section 1705.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Six Months of Teen Reviews

The recent edition of SLJTeen on December 19th marks six months of reviews by the teens in Bookmarked. This is the halfway mark for Bookmarked's stint as the resident teen book reviewers for the online newsletter. It has been an interesting six months. The students' book reviews are outstanding. They really have some intriguing insights about the books that they are reading. On the other hand, every two weeks arrives quickly, and it can be like pulling teeth for them to submit the reviews to me. I know that many of them are inundated with English work that entails a lot of reading. Also, our editor wants the books to be pre-pub by at least one month. It seems the publishers are sending the advanced copies much closer to the pub dates, and often by the time that the teens read the books, the publication date has passed. However, we have been able to overcome all these trials and tribulations. I want to share with you a link that will allow you to read every review that was published by the teens at Patrick Taylor Academy. If all you want to do is read the latest edition of book reviews on SLJTeen, just click here.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Help Save Louisiana School Libraries

BESE. in Louisiana, wants to amend its bulletin that guides all school districts. In so doing, BESE will allow districts to decide if a library should be staffed and if it should be staffed by a certified librarian. We need to take action and ask BESE to require a certified librarian in every school. Please read what the Louisiana Association of School Librarians (LASL) has suggested on how you can help. Click here to open the LASL plan of action.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Student Blogs for YALSA's The Hub

open here to read The Hub
A couple of months ago, one of the members of Bookmarked, the high school book group, asked me if there were some places besides SLJ Teen where she could submit book reviews. I thought about it and decided to contact the manager of The Hub. The Hub is one of YALSA's blogs and the focus of this blog is young adult literature. There are a number of librarians who blog regularly for The Hub, and I thought Kayla's writing would be a great addition. Gretchen Kolderup, the manager, agreed when she read a sample. Today Kayla's first post was published. Click here to read what Kayla had to say.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Glimpse of the New PFTSTA

The construction of the new Patrick Taylor Academy began in January 2012 and is slated to be complete in May 2013. I have been taking pictures of the changes in the exterior on a monthly basis. Other teachers have been too. I was also given some video by one of the students as she drove by the new school. I put all of this together in a video. The video below shows the progress of the exterior beginning in January and running through October. 

 
PFTSTA Construction Jan 2012 to Oct 2012 from PFTSTA on Vimeo

Though I have really enjoyed watching the changes as they take shape, it is the 
recent interior shots that have me jumping up and down. I have never worked in a new school nor had a library space that will equal this one. The principal, Jaime Zapico, has had two hard hat tours of the interior of the new facility. Last week, she took some video just for me of the library space and the common area just outside of the library. Below is a video that I put together of those shots. 

Check it out:

PFTSTA Library Under Construction December 2012 from Elizabeth Kahn on Vimeo.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Policy Change for School Libraries in Louisiana

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Just last week I blogged about the importance of being an advocate for your school library and in so doing you will be an advocate for all school libraries. Little did I know that less than seven days after writing that post the need for advocacy would reach a critical point in Louisiana. The Board of Elementary and State Education (BESE), which is the Louisiana state board of elected and appointed officials, has decided that they can help reform the schools by amending Bulletin 741. This is the handbook that the administrators in all districts must use as the guidelines for managing all public schools. The title page and forward is pictured below.
Click the above image to enlarge

Then the other day, a librarian in northern Louisiana sent out a link to Bulletin 741 with all the points in the document that BESE wants to cut. There are lines drawn through many of the resolutions, but it is Chapter 17, section 1705 that makes me sick. I have made a copy of this section for you to see below. You can click on the image to enlarge it. You can see by all the lines crossed out that school libraries and school librarians may be left out of a school budget with ease. It is now going to be up to the districts to decide if a librarian is necessary, and also it is not required that libraries receive a budget for materials. 

Open here to see Bulletin 741 in its entirety









Excuse me? I am not important? Library resources are not important for educating our students? I beg to differ. I offer so much to the faculty and students at my school. I opened the library in 2006 with 1800 books on the shelves. Through hard work and many hours of writing grants, the library now has over 6400 volumes, over 600 electronic reference books and many other electronic resources too. When colleges and universities are rated for quality, the library and the number of volumes in the library is always part of the equation. Why is that not true for elementary and secondary school too? It should be. This is my 21st year as a librarian in a public school in Louisiana. I have faced cuts to the library before on the local level, but a district would always have to get a waiver if the libraries did not follow the state guidelines. Now the state wants to allow districts to make all the changes they want without waivers -- all in the name of reform. This is not reform. It is all about money and not spending it. Without a library, a school and school districts would save an enormous amount of money. But at what cost? The students of Louisiana would definitely lose out. If you want to know 100 things that students would lose without their librarian and library, click here right now.

What can you do? If you live in Louisiana you need to contact your BESE representative before the January 16, 2013 meeting and tell them not to slash school libraries. Tell everyone you know to do the same. Click here to open the link for the contact info for all BESE members. If you need talking points, check out the list of 100 things that students would miss without a school library. If you don't live in Louisiana, you need to be an advocate for your library or your favorite school library.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Librarian and Teens Review New Books

This is a picture that was taken during the American Library Association Annual Conference in Anaheim in June of 2012. That's me on the right, standing with author, Ashley Edward Miller, who wrote the young adult book, Colin Fischer. I am posting this picture six months after it was taken because I wrote a review of his book that was published in the latest edition of SLJTeen. Click here to read that review and to read two other reviews by members of Bookmarked, the high school library book group at Patrick Taylor.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Voting Opened for Annual Edublog Awards

This blog, Tales from a Loud Librarian, was nominated again for the annual edublog awards, also known as the eddies. I love this award because there are so many categories of edtech nominated, and I always find some gems that I had never seen before. 

Anyway, you need to vote daily until December 9th. The awards will be announced on December 12th. Open here to find the link to vote. You can vote for this blog under the category, library/librarian blog. Check out all the other categories for some awesome resources. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advocacy for Your School Library Helps All School Libraries


One of my colleagues at school is a big proponent of teachers' rights and believes that the teachers' unions are crucial for good public schools. This is an idea that has gotten a lot of flak lately, but I agree with him. However, there is one point that we often discuss and always disagree. Advocacy. He is a classroom teacher and thinks that his good teaching stands on its own and that he doesn't need to prove how hard he works by talking about what goes on in his classroom. He doesn't know what I have gone through as a librarian over the last twenty years, and how important it has been to broadcast about what goes on in a school library. 

Two PFTSTA students enjoying the library
I explain to him that it is vital that librarians shout about all the wonderful activities happening in their library. I do just that with this blog, the library website, twitter, email blasts, discussions with my principal, notices in the daily memo and articles in the school monthly newsletter. Since I became a librarian, I have used whatever media was available to advertise the library. I had to. Often, my library position was on the chopping block. At those pesky principal meetings I wanted my principal to say that their librarian was an integral part of the school program. My advocacy has not always saved my position. Over my 12 years as an elementary librarian, I spent four of them as half time librarian and half time literacy teacher for a specific group of children. I can multi-task, but being a librarian is a huge job, and it was difficult to do great work only working part time in each position. When I had the opportunity to move to a 7th -12th school configuration, I jumped at the chance. I figured that my position was safe. After two years, the district decided that all high schools could function with one librarian no matter how big the school. My school had 1500 students, and we did lots of teaching in the library. There is no way that one person could teach and run the library the way that we did it with two of us. Then Katrina happened. I chose to find a new library. I left the Orleans Parish schools and found a job in Jefferson Parish at Patrick Taylor Sci Tech Academy. 

This is my seventh year at Patrick Taylor, and I have worked under two principals. I feel very lucky that both of them have been extremely supportive of the program that I have created in the library. I also want to say that both of these principals were former math teachers and probably did not use the libraries very often in the schools were they taught. They watched how I brought students into the library, got students reading and helped provide a foundation for teaching 21st century skills and couldn't help but see how the library has grown to be the hub of the school. I continue to be my own advocate. I also encourage other librarians to do the same.

Why do you need to talk up your program? If you don't do it, then nobody else will. I make sure that teachers and staff know what great things are happening in the library. Because of that, I will hear the secretary explain to prospective students about all the wonderful books that are on the library's shelves. When the school holds its annual open house for prospective students, I am always amazed at what the current students say about the library. It blows me away when they say, "if you need help with your research just ask Ms. Kahn because she knows where to find the best stuff." When visitors are toured around campus, the library is always a stop and described as one of the happening places on campus. 

The library at Patrick Taylor has an open door policy. Students and teachers are always welcome, but because of this inclusive spirit other wonderful things have come our way too. We have 3 to 4 author visits yearly either face to face or through Skype, the high school book group has been asked to participate in a number of events sponsored by YALSA and we have been able to win many grants because the library program is such a viable force in the school. 

There are lots of ways that you can be an advocate for your library. It could be digital or in print. You need to reach all stakeholders: students, parents, administrators and the community. Click here for a link to sign up for AASL's Advocacy Tip of the Day. You can find other advocacy resources from AASL by clicking right here.  Libraries have not lost their importance in the digital age; they just need to be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the learners. So think about you can do to be an advocate for your library, because your advocacy can affect all libraries. It is not about keeping your job; it is about providing a necessary service for the education of the students who attend your school.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Voting Now Opened for the LA Teen Readers' Choice Awards

In October, several students and I had the pleasure of attending the first ever Teen Readers' Choice Awards for Louisiana in Baton Rouge. You can read about it here. There have been readers' choice awards at the elementary and middle school level for a number of years, but a teen choice award was not added until 2012. 

Vote Here

The voting has opened for the 2013 award. You must read at least two of the books and be 12 to 18 years old to vote. Voting will end on February 1, 2013. Open here to cast your vote

Here is a list of the books that have been nominated:
Lauren Oliver: Before I Fall
Cassandra Clare: Clockwork Angel
Drew Brees: Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity
Ally Condie: Matched
Paolo Bacigalupi: Ship Breaker
Suzanne Supplee Somebody Everybody Listens To
Matthew Quick: Sorta Like a Rock Star
Swati Avasthi: Split
Holly Black: White Cat: Curse Workers Book 1
G. Neri: Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty

Friday, November 23, 2012

Student Review of Book Set in New Orleans

Bookmarked's bi-weekly reviews in the online newsletter, SLJ Teen, were published on November 21st. In this edition, one of the students reviewed Ruta Sepetys new book that takes place in New Orleans, where we live. Though the student loved the fact that the story was set in a place that she knew, she would have been a big fan even if that was not the case. Open here to see what she and the other reviewers had to say.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

#Eddies12 Nominations

Open Here to Make your Nominations
It is nearing the end of another year, and so the time has arrived to make nominations for the annual Edublog Awards. I love these awards, not because I like getting nominated (who doesn't like to get recognized), but because I always find some new electronic tool or new person to follow. I guess that I like these awards because I can count on all the nominations to be quality sources, and I love enlarging my professional learning network.

Here are some of my favs of the moment:
EdTech Blog: I know that he will get lots of nominations, but my favorite go to EdTech site is Richard Byrne's Free Technology for Teachers. I know that if I am looking for a tool for a particular purpose that Richard will have several for me to choose. I am a faithful reader of his column in School Library Journal.

Twitter Hashtag: I am a school librarian, and though I am interested in a lot of issues, my first interest is in what other librarians have to say. So I am nominating #tlchat for this award. You can find the best of #tlchat on the Tlchat Daily.

Individual Tweeter: There are a few teachers in my district (Jefferson Parish in Louisiana) who are doing some amazing things with technology. Paula Naugle who teaches 4th grade was thinking about retirement when she found that using technology energized her interest in teaching. She has been able to bring the world to her students in Metairie, LA.

Group Blog: As I said earlier, being a school librarian means that I have a bias for all things that have to do with the library. For this award, I am going to nominate a blog from one of the professional organizations in which I belong, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). There are several blogs run by YALSA, but my favorite one is all about young adult literature, The Hub.

Free Web Tool: There are many tools on the web that I love. I couldn't blog without blogger; I couldn't have created a website without Weebly; but I couldn't be a good librarian without having all the curation tools at my fingertips. I use a number of them, but right now I am a big fan of Livebinders. It is not known for its beauty, but it functions like a dream. I can embed it on the library website. When I give the students the link, I can update the binder, and the students will see the updated version.

Best Social Network: I am going to nominate this with reservations. I am a big fan of Twitter. I would like to use it more than I do now, but there is a huge problem. Twitter is blocked at my school. So I am limited to tweeting by phone during the school day. I really wish that I could get to the site more often, but I have been trying to get it open at school without any luck.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Student Finds the Book he Wanted


Here is a happy sixth grader who walked into the library and found just the book that he wanted, the new middle school book by James Patterson, Middle School Just Got Worse. Students are allowed to put books on hold. When the book is returned to the library, the student will be sent an email telling them the book that they wanted is available. Some of the titles with lots of holds at PFTSTA include, Mark of Athena, Rise of Nine, and the Harry Potter books. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Annual Library Fundraiser Begins

Library Fundraiser from November 9th through November 27th


Cover of  the catalog
Help support library programs at PFTSTA like Teen READ Week and Teen TECH Week as well as help get the newest and hottest young adult literature on the shelves of the library by ordering with us. 

This is the third year that the PFTSTA Library is working with Great American Opportunities for the Order Now, Pay Later style of fundraiser. Students can ask parents, relatives, friends and parents' co-workers to order from the spring Family Values catalog. The orders will be placed at the end of November, and then the items while arrive at school around the end of January, in time for Valentine's Day. By participating in this sale, the library gets a bigger profit than a traditional sale. We have been able to raise about $600 each year with this type of fundraiser.

Now we understand that you may set aside money to spend for holiday gifts, and you don't want to wait until January to receive your items because you want to put that item under the tree. No problems there. You can order online. All online orders will benefit the library, and students who participate will be eligible for the prize package. 

You don't even have to have a student at PFTSTA to help us out. Anyone can order online to support the Patrick Taylor Academy school library. 

Here is the link to find the online store: www.gafundraising.com.
Please enter School code: 1479302
You will have access to all kinds of items online that are not available in the catalog!

Some of the items available in the catalog

Monday, November 12, 2012

Annabeth Pays a Visit

On the last day of spirit week, the students were asked to dress as a celebrity. There were some very clever costumes of living and dead celebrities. However, when Annabeth from the Percy Jackson series walked through the door of the library, I had to snap her picture. I love the homemade t-shirt for Camp Half-Blood with Pegasus.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Teens Write Reviews for New YA Titles

The teens in the high school book group, Bookmarked, have not let me down yet. On November 7th, another set of reviews was published in SLJ Teen. This project has been a big undertaking, but I think that it is totally worth it to have the kids thoughts about what they read get shared with librarians, publishers and authors around the country. As they continue to review books for SLJ Teen until May, Bookmarked was also selected to nominate books for YALSA's Teen's Top Ten program for another two years. The group had to submit an application for one of the five slots that were available for returning groups. Our group was the first ever selected from the Deep South, but this time another local school library was selected too. I know the librarians there and hope that our groups can meet through Skype or maybe even face to face.

Click here to read the latest reviews. Just scroll down and click on the box that says, November 7, 2012.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Taking Teens to the Louisiana Book Festival















On Saturday morning, October 27th, eight members of the high school book group, Bookmarked, met at school to head off to Baton Rouge to attend the annual Louisiana Book Festival. This was the first year that the festival committee had invited three authors of young adult literature to present. I thought it would be a great opportunity for the teens to see the state library, the state capital and immerse themselves into all things literary.

The first event of the day was the award ceremony where author, Jennifer Brown, received the first ever Louisiana Teen Reader’s Choice Award for her book, Hate List. She made a delightful presentation and kept the audience laughing. Though she explained her inspiration for Hate List and that was not a light moment. She explained how she was mercilessly bullied for four years beginning when she entered middle school. She began writing in 2000, but her first book, Hate List, was not published until 2009. The therapist in the book is modeled after her husband and the art teacher by her best friend’s mother. She has a second book, Bitter End, about dating violence that is not rooted in a personal story, but the idea for her third book, Perfect Escape, is based on the mental health issues that her siblings suffered. Several of the students ran out at the end so they would have time to buy Jennifer's book and get it signed. Love that. 

After the ceremony the students gathered for a photo op with Jennifer and her new award


We had about a half hour for lunch before the next session that we were to attend. It took a while to enter the state capitol because we had to go through the metal detector. They didn’t ask you to take off your shoes like at the airport, but people were asked to take off belts, empty pockets and take off jewelry. It took several minutes for each person to walk through the door so there was a very long line. Anyway, when we got in, we walked directly to the senate chamber which turned out to be an awful venue for this kind of presentation, but the space is quite ornate and really beautiful with all the marble and the decorated ceiling. 



Corey Whaley was the interviewer and Walter Dean Myers was the interviewee and both were sitting below the audience. Corey won the Printz award medal for Where Things Come Back in 2012 and Mr. Myers won the very first Printz award given in 2000 for his book, Monster. Both are great reads.

Corey Whaley on the left and Walter Dean Myers on the right
Mr. Myers talked a lot about the importance of education for everyone and that we need a society where people read. He believes that all young people need books and computers in their homes because without them the students’ education will be impacted in a negative way. He explained how his son his better educated than he is and because of that his son challenges him. He believes that is a good thing. I have a scheduled Skype session with Mr. Myers for September 2013. I think that it will be a good one!

 The end of the day was approaching, but we had some time to kill before the last session of the day that we were attending. Some of the students hit the exhibitor tents and others went to the state museum in Baton Rouge. I had never been to the state museum, and I was quite impressed. 



For the last event of the day, it was Corey Whaley again, but he was the author being interviewed this time. Stephanie Wilkes, Young Adult Coordinator for the Ouachita Parish Public Library in Monroe, Louisiana, was the interviewer. This was the most fun for me because Stephanie and I met awhile ago in the virtual world and face to face a handful of times. I first met Corey at ALA in 2011 and have run into him several times virtually and face to face as well.



Corey explained how he wrote his book on a camping trip, and it took him four years to sell it. At that time, he was teaching school at the high school that he attended and really wanted to quit so that he could write full time. Though he finally sold the book in 2009, it wasn’t actually published until 2011. After the book is published, he wins two of the biggest awards in young adult literature: the Printz and the Morris. That was an amazing coup. He has finished his next book, but his editor said that he could not talk about it.

Stephanie poses with Corey 
I got Corey to pose with the kids and asked him if he would be willing to visit the school. I am going to cross my fingers that we can work something out after the first of the year. All in all it was a great day. I think that it was worth the hard work that it took to plan on how to get everyone there. 



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Teen Read Week Big Success


The library was a hub of activity all week long as the students celebrated Teen Read Week. It may not have always been about books, but it certainly put the library in the minds of all the students and teachers at PFTSTA. You can check out all the pics and activities of the week here on the PFTSTA Library website


Teen Read Week may be over, but there are two contests in which students can still participate. Entries in the annual bookmark contest are due October 29th. Open here for the entry form

This will be the first time that PFTSTA participates in YALSA's Wrestlemania Reading Challenge. Teens will need to write a letter to their fav WWE Superstar asking the Superstar to try a great read recommended by the teen. The letters must be submitted by November 9th. You can find out more about this challenge by watching the video below: (watch at home, video hosted on youtube)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Picture Yourself from another World for Teen Read Week


On Wednesday, for Teen Read Week, the students visited the library to dress like they were from another world. There was a table full of assorted costumes for them to select as an outfit. Wigs, masks, scarves and other stuff were thrown everywhere as students crowded around to create their own masterpiece. Maybe no one looked like they stepped out of a book, but we did get some crazy photos. Check out more pics of the day on the library website here. (Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the pictures.)

I did some editing using pixlr.com to create these images

Author and Student Picture in SLJ Teen

It is that time again when members of Bookmarked have their book reviews published in the online newsletter SLJ Teen. In this edition, a PFTSTA student reviews a book by an author who visited the school, Gina Damico. We included a photo of him with the author to go along with his review of Scorch. He is a big fan of Damico and was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet her in person.  Open here to read the newest reviews. You can find a catalog of all the reviews here. Or maybe you want SLJ Teen in your in box every other week for free, then you can subscribe here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teen Read Week Begins with a Movie












The theme for this year's Teen Read Week is, It Came from the Library. At PFTSTA, we interpreted that to be stories rooted in other worlds.



When we decided to start the week off with a movie, I thought that we might want to use a Twilight Zone episode. Each episode lasts about 30 minutes which is perfect for each lunch period. Also, the setting for many of the episodes was a world that is not ours. One of the members of Bookmarked suggested The Obsolete Man because it was her favorite. It was first shown on June 2, 1961, and it still seems relevant today. I loved the fact that Burgess Meredith, who is deemed obsolete, is a librarian. How fitting. In this world there are no more books, so there don't need to be any librarians. I invited students to bring their lunches with them, and I served popcorn. There were two showings, one for middle school and the other for high school.

Even some of the seniors joined us for the 1st showing


Monday, October 15, 2012

YALSA Announces the Winners of Teen's Top Ten

The first day of Teen READ Week is always exciting because TRW has started and also because the top ten  teen-selected books are announced. This is one of the few book lists that is selected solely by kids. I made a sign that I am going to hang up in my library announcing the ten titles that won. Feel free to click the link below and download my sign from Scribd and hang in your library.

2012 Teens Top Ten Winners Sign

Join the Conversation and Tweet TRW12 on October 17th

YALSA is encouraging librarians, teens and everyone who loves young adult literature to join the conversation about reading on Twitter on October 17th during Teen Read Week. Use the hashtag #TRW12 to join the fun.

Click here to read more about it.

Friday, October 12, 2012

JK Rowling Webcast Event

I know that JK Rowling was speaking to hundreds of thousands of kids across the world, but it felt like she was talking just to us. The 6th graders joined together in Mrs. Bordelon's room to watch this epic event at 11AM on October 11th. (I wonder if Ms. Rowling chose 10-11-12 for her webcast on purpose)


Anyway, Ms. Rowling read from The Sorcerer's Stone. It was truly magical. She talked about some of her favorite parts in the series. Those included introducing the reader to Luna Lovegood, the graveyard scene in The Goblet of Fire and writing Peeves' jingles. 


She told us how there is a little bit if her in Harry, Ron and Hermione. Harry is quick to get upset and so is Ms. Rowling. Her humor is very similar to Ron's sense of what is fun. She is quite bookish just like Hermione, and said that as a teenager she would turn to books to find out answers. 


You can enter the world of Harry Potter and find out how magical you are, get sorted into a house and select a wand by visiting her new website Pottermore. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to enter. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Teen Read Week is Just Around the Corner

It is October and that means Teen Read Week is fast approaching. We always celebrate big in the PFTSTA Library. I use it to get kids into the library who don't usually visit unless required by a teacher. I like having my regulars too, of course. The members of the high school book group, Bookmarked, always help me plan and oversee the running of all the activities. It is the middle school kids who really get excited about the events. 

This year, we sort of streamlined things. I think that I am prone to over plan, and if there are too many activities, the students don't really know which ones to choose. I think that  this year is going to be a great one!

Check it out:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

BRiMS Meets to Talk about The Maze Runner



On Thursday, October 4th, the middle school book group sat down to talk about the first book in Dashner's trilogy, The Maze Runner. The students loved the fact that such a small group showed up for this event and asked if next time the number of students could be capped at eight. It won't. We had one small issue with our discussion this month. One of the students had loved the first one so much that they plowed through the whole set before we sat down for our discussion. We kept having to ask them to quiet down every time they tried to speak with the rest of the group saying loudly, " STOP is it a SPOILER???? " The next book we will read is a single, so we won't be facing that issue again. 


The book proved to be popular even among the students who are not fans of science fiction. Though one student said that she did not like any of the characters in the story. We tried to figure out what the Grievers really looked like by drawing our renditions of the creatures. None of them are fit to print, and I really don't think that we could do them justice. By the end of the discussion, we were not sure if WICKED had good intentions are not by putting the boys in the maze, but we were told that the third book does explain all.Most of the students want to finish the trilogy which tells me that the choice of title was a success. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bookmarked Members Continue to Write Outstanding Book Reviews

On Wednesday, October 3rd, four members of Bookmarked had their reviews published in SLJ Teen. This is the seventh edition of the online newsletter that has carried book reviews by the high school students. They continue to submit some stellar writing and show the world that the students at PFTSTA are on the ball.
Click here to read the entire October 3rd edition
Click here to open the section of the newsletter with their reviews. Also, I am saving the URLs for all the reviews in one place. Open here, and you can read all the reviews that they have written since June of 2012. This link will be updated with each addition, so feel free to save it and go back every other week to read the newly posted reviews.
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