Thursday, March 29, 2012

Middle School Book Group's First Discussion

I finally created a middle school book group. I am ashamed to say that this is my sixth year at PFTSTA, and my first time including the middle school students in a library club of any sort. Bookmarked, the high school book group, has been in place for five years. Every Monday I close the library during lunch to hold a book group meeting for the high school students. I couldn't figure out how to include the middle school because I did not want to close during lunch on another day. After talking with a few teachers to get their opinion, I decided that I would have a middle school group meet once a month after school. PFTSTA is a magnet school and draws students from across the parish of Jefferson and the region as well. Most of our students ride a bus to school and getting transportation home can be difficult, but if the students want to participate in sports they find a way. So I figured that they could work something out for book group too. I posted all the meeting dates for the rest of the year, so parents could plan ahead. The first meeting of Books Rule in Middle School or BRiMS was in February. For the first meeting we all brought a book to share. I selected the book for March. I chose Tangerine by Edward Bloor. Tangerines were served as snack, and we had a lively discussion. The students had some insightful comments about the book. All seemed to really like it. Those who did not finish, plan to get to the end. We were concerned about spoilers for the few who did not finish, but it did not seem to be a problem. Want to know more about BRiMS or what we are reading next? Open here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bookmarked Poses for the Yearbook

It is that time again when the book group, Bookmarked, gets ready for its beauty shot that will be immortalized in the school's yearbook. Hopefully, the shot on the yearbook camera was better than this one. You can see everyone, but not everyone is looking at the camera. Here is the group that meets every Monday at lunch to talk books in the library. 

We all grabbed a favorite read before posing. I selected Gabrielle Zevin's All These Things I've Done. I had just finished it and found it engrossing. What an idea that chocolate is contraband. I am anxiously awaiting the sequel to see if Anya Balanchine can actually head her crime family now that she has been expelled from school. You can find a video of the author touring you around the sites of New York that can be found in the book:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Student Writes Article on Library for Local Paper

The following article was written by a member of Bookmarked, the high school book group. It was published on Sunday, March 11, 2012 in the Westbank Picayune. This is a special section of the Times Picayune that is only published on the Westbank.    Area high school students are invited to be journalists for the year. They select a topic about their school that they want to share, and the articles are published monthly. This month Kayla writes about the PFTSTA Library. She did a wonderful job, but I didn't even know about it until I saw someone tacking a copy on the bulletin board outside the office. I put so much information on the library website that Kayla didn't need to interview me. I could not find an electronic copy of this article. If you click on it, you can view a  bigger size that is readable. 

Way to go Kayla, thanks for making the PFTSTA Library look so good. I hope all the kids at Taylor feel like it is a great place to visit or hang out. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Visit to Site of New School

The current location of Patrick Taylor Academy is in a 1950's building that was designed for elementary students. The library is in a classroom. There is no auditorium or gym or any place on campus that can hold the whole student body. There are only 300 students, but to accommodate that many students on the campus, the district had to add four portable classrooms in the back field. I am going to say something because it is true. The current Taylor building is one of the ugliest school buildings that I have every worked in. I have been in old buildings before that had lots of issues due to neglect but also had charm and interesting architectural details due to their age. Not so for this space.
Sign at new site 
When I was hired in 2006, PFTSTA was only two years old. The district promised that a building was going to be built for the new school. There have been no new schools built in Jefferson Parish in over 20 years. So this is a big deal. Originally, the move in date was for some time in 2009. That year came and went, but if you visit the site of the new school today you will see that the current 2013 move in date is a real possibility.
On the left is the JEDCO building that is completed
On The right is the 8 acre site of the new school

Yesterday, my husband and I were on the Westbank of Jefferson Parish. Both Orleans and Jefferson Parishes are divided by the Mississippi River. The new site of PFTSTA will be in Avondale across the river from New Orleans. We were eating lunch and watching traffic back up on the Crescent City Connection. We knew that to get home in a timely manner that we would need to take the other bridge, the Huey P. Long. At lunch, we decided that it was time for a field trip to Churchill Technology Park to see what is happening with the new school. 
PFTSTA site March 17, 2012

As you can see in the picture above, there are dozens of pilings that have been driven. There were workers present on Saturday repairing one of the machines that they needed for next week's work. One of the men told me that he has driven over 1500 pilings at the site. There is a fence around the eight acre site, but there are also sidewalks in place. We walked the sidewalks to get a feel for the place. It is a beautiful and quiet location. Of course, the magnificent New Orleans spring weather helped. I am not looking forward to a commute, but this is going to be a really awesome space. I look forward to the day that I am   in a library big enough for quiet and noisy students to work and be able to look out the windows and see the blue sky and tops of the trees. We were told that there were some alligators in the neighborhood. We looked for them on our way out, but we never did see them. 
This is the back end of the site. 
There will be fields for sports located here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Article Published in Library Media Connection (LMC)

I was first published in print several years ago, but I haven't had much in the way of bylines since then. Until now. Below is a copy of the table of contents page for the current issue of Library Media Connection. The Gale TEAMS Award that we won in fall 2011 was also sponsored by LMC. The editorial staff asked if Lisa Valence and I would write an article describing the project that won us the award. If you have the current copy of LMC, you can read all about it on page 40. If you can't get a copy, click the link underneath the table of contents below to read a pdf version. One of my colleagues in Jefferson Parish, TerryYoung, has an article on page 14 in this edition, and it is all about STEM resources. 
Collaboration is the Key to Successful Research

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Meeting Cecil Castellucci

On March 12th, the members of Bookmarked arrived early for their regularly scheduled weekly meeting. Instead of talking about what we were reading, we were going to skype with author, Cecil Castellucci. I had won a skype visit through a contest that I saw on Twitter.  A group of authors living in the Los Angeles area were offering their time for this contest, and the only stipulation to enter was that you could not be in the LA area. I found a number of Cecil's books in the PFTSA library's collection. I chose to read Queen of Cool in anticipation of the event. Okay, I am a girl, and I picked it because I liked the cover. Most of my students do that, too. It was a quick read, and the main character learns how to be a genuine person in the end which was very uplifting.
I don't know if Cecil knew that she was being projected larger than life in the library. She was delightful and so gracious to the students. She talked a little bit about her background. She grew up in New York city and has lived in the Los Angeles since college. She moved to LA because of her involvement in a band, but it seems that her muse has led her to writing as a full time career.
Not all of the students were familiar with her work, but they had some good questions. Though the students felt her books were more geared to girls, she described one of her newest, First Day on Earth, that should appeal to both boys and girls. The protagonist is a boy who thinks that he has been abducted by aliens. I am going to buy that one for our library. She also talked about how she has been writing for a long time, and yes she had some rejections before her first book got published. I liked hearing about all the different kinds of writing that she has done. She wrote a libretto that was performed in Canada, and she has a couple of graphic novels published and more coming down the pike. 

Thank you Cecil, for giving us a fun afternoon. I think that you have inspired some budding writers. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Teen Tech Week 2012 was Tech-tacular

I think that this was the best Teen Tech Week (TTW) ever. I enjoyed all the activities, and I think the kids did too. Let me give you a daily wrap up of each event. 

I thought that I would start TTW with a movie and popcorn. That way if students forgot that it was TTW, they could visit the library for a special event that needed no preparation. I didn't ask anyone to sign up for the movie. I just held two showings so that every interested student would be able to view it. Below is a shot from the Oscar winning animated short, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore created by William Joyce
The kids really were enamored with the movie. The theme is so pertinent to show in a library. It is all about the power of the story, and it begins in the French Quarter only a 15 minute drive from school. 


I had to convince them that it would be a good idea, but I got Jon and Pamela Voelkel to skype with us. They were reluctant because they didn't know if the medium would work for their type of presentation. The Voelkels have visited PFTSTA twice. The first time we were taken by storm when they arrived larger than life with their two daughters in tow. They bring the Mayans to life in words, song and pictures. The second time we were prepared for their antics, but it was equally as much fun. I thought a skype session would be a great venue. They prepared their room with some fake trees, so it looked like they were sitting in a forest even though it was a winter wonderland outside their window in Vermont. One of our students is of Mayan descent, so he came to tell the Voelkels some stories from his father. They shared some history of Mayan technology. There were lots of questions about life in the days of the Mayans and their books. 
Book 2 in the Jaguar Stones series by Jon and Pamela Voelkel
(You can find PFTSTA mentioned on the last page of the acknowledgements)

Pamela tweeted out about the skype session and had taken a picture of me after we were done with the students. I take lots of pictures on our end of every skype session. This was the first time that I got to see me on the other person's end. 

On Wednesday and Friday, students signed up to create a Mech. I found the templates on-line. There were 27 choices. The students picked the one they wanted to create, and I had it printed and ready to go when they walked in the door. This created a big mess, but it was also a big hit. We don't do many crafts in our library, so this really was a treat. 
Each Mech had to be cut with scissors and an exacto knife to get the notches  
This colorful Mech was made by Tyler Libert

This is what the tables looked like after the students left the library for 4th period
I found this idea on Twitter. Someone had tweeted a picture of book spine poetry. I thought the students would have fun making their own poems. Again the library was a mess when the students left, but we had a blast. Want to make your own book spine poetry? Try it during National Poetry Month in April
An example of the poetry that the students created
Many of the books were used multiple times because their titles lent well to a poem
It was an exhausting week, but I think it was a success. Find more photos posted on the library website.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday and it's Teen Tech Week

Today at lunch we are going to create a Mech. They are paper doll robots. That is what I am calling them. I printed the PDF on cardstock. They look like this:
Another Example Here:

There are 27 different Mechs to choose from on the website. I let the kids pick the one that they want to make. That way we will have lots of little creatures moving about the library. They will need to cut with scissors and exacto knives ( I am a little worried about this part). It is mostly middle schoolers creating the Mechs. I have high school students on board to help with the cutting. 

We are scheduled to do this at lunch. Wish me luck. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Teen Tech Week 2012 Begins Today

It is that time again when the library goes TECH! Okay, there is technology 24/7 at the PFTSTA library, but one week of every year we go crazy with technology related activities. We always celebrate technology by participating in the YALSA sponsored Teen Tech Week (TTW). The event officially began yesterday, but since school only runs Monday through Friday, we started today.

I usually over plan. So I decided to tone it down a notch this year. We have a special event every day at lunch. The students can play Research Riddles daily and win daily with a grand prize for two students at the end of the week. I need to thank A Google A Day for their help in the creation of the research riddles. We have a contest for students to enter also. You can read all about our slate of fun right here on the library website. Once Teen Tech Week is over, I will post pictures of all events which you can view at that same link. If you want to see pictures from TTW  2010 and 2011, you can find links on the library website.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thank you, Laura Bush!!!!

Laura Bush visited the New Orleans area today to give the last twelve grants for the Gulf Coast School Recovery Initiative. All 116 schools that received awards since 2006 were invited to participate in this event and representatives from 77 of those schools were there. I attended along with my principal, Jaime Zapico. It was held at Chalmette High School in St. Bernard Parish because that is where Mrs. Bush presented the first round of awards in 2006. 

It was a beautiful affair. When we arrived, we got to visit with all the librarians and eat muffins and drink coffee. Since I have worked in both Orleans Parish and now Jefferson Parish schools, I knew a lot of the librarians attending the event. There was a wonderful student jazz band playing. After about an hour, we went into this amazing auditorium. A facility that we at Patrick Taylor only dream about. The chorus sang, and we heard more music from the band. Then a video was shown with librarians, students, and principals from many of the schools telling their stories about their libraries and thanking Mrs. Bush. Our 25 second video was cut to almost nothing, but I have uploaded it below for you to see.

Next were the speeches. I have to tell you that I think that Sophie, the president of the Chalmette High Student Council was one of the most eloquent speakers. However, it was Mrs. Bush's announcement that got the room humming. Near the end of her speech, she told us that every school that was a recipient of an award from the Laura Bush Foundation would receive another check. I asked later and found out that it will be $1000-$1200. That is amazing. I had no idea that was coming. We all felt like we were on Oprah's Favorite Things show. 

Idella Washington, librarian at William Harte Elementary is on the left
Mrs. Bush is on the right (but you knew that)
When the presentation was over, there was a luncheon reception. Then the foundation held a training session conducted by Junko Yokota from the National-Louis University who is a member of the foundation's advisory committee. She talked about digital resources especially the merging of books, apps and ebooks. I am so glad that I could attend.

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