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Swan Song in SLJTeen

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It has been a great run, but the December 18th edition of SLJTeen was Bookmarked's last contribution to the twice a month newsletter. I was pleased that we could end with a bang. The students submitted five reviews, and I wrote an article to say goodbye. In the reviews, you will find a student reviewed Noggin by John Corey Whaley; the same book that I reviewed in the December 4th edition. I hate to admit it, but I think that Vy nailed it better than I did. Click the links above to read the student's reviews and my swan song. 





Early Christmas Present for the Library

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Patrick Taylor Academy moved into the new building in Avondale at the end of July. School began on August 9th. The classrooms were ready before the library, and I couldn't open the library until August 22nd. Even then, there were still finishing touches that were not completed. I have been waiting since August for holes to be drilled in the counters for computer cables, shelving in the storage room, electrical outlets to become live and stool height chairs for students at the computer counter. Having the cables and electrical cords hanging in front of the counters looked ridiculous and also were a safety hazard. Wednesday, two days before our winter break, the stone man and carpenter came to drill the holes in the counters with the student computers and my circulation desk. I can go on break a happy camper. See for yourself in the photos above and below. 

Evaluation Done & I Hit Every Section on the Librarian's Rubric

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I have been teaching for over 30 years. You would think that I would not get nervous about being observed by my principal. She has certainly popped in the library many times while I was teaching a class. However, having a formal teacher evaluation did make me a bit jumpy. If you would like to read the rubric used to evaluate school librarians in Louisiana, open here.

To plan for this event, I knew that I had to do a collaborative lesson with one of my teachers. I selected the biology teacher because we have worked together before, and she was going out on maternity leave. I knew that having me work with her students for two 90 minute periods was not going to eat into her teaching time. Together we decided to do a project on human diseases. Last year, after her students completed the Louisiana end of course test (EOC), they told her there were some topics on the test that were not covered in class. How technology is used to diagnose and treat human diseases was one of those areas.

We …

Gig as Teen Reviewers Soon to End

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I hadn't read the amazing description about me that Dodie had written in this week's edition of SLJTeen until I received an email from a fellow librarian. She was sending me kudos about something that I hadn't even seen. Dodie, you had me floored. I just don't think of myself in that way. I do what I do to provide the best library program that I can physically do for the students at Patrick Taylor. The fact that I love it is a big plus in my book, and I realize this is not a given. It also helps to have supportive administrators, faculty members and parents, too. 









The students were a little light this week with their reviews for SLJTeen. So Dodie and I had an opportunity to wax eloquent about some books that we have been reading. Though I write in this blog regularly, which means I am published on the web, it still gives me a little thrill to see my own byline in SLJTeen. Read our reviews here.





Presenting at LACUE 2013

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I am not going to bore you with the stress that I have had over the last three weeks. Just suffice it to say that life can hit you with some very difficult curve balls. What makes it nice is to have a collaborator who watches your back. In September when I decided to present at the annual conference for the Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators (LACUE), I had no clue that time would get away from me. Kelly Maher and I have presented together before, and we planned to do it again this year. I like working with Kelly because we are very different and each of us are able to make unique contributions to our presentations. So I am writing this and offering a HUGE shout out to Kelly for probably pulling way more weight on this presentation than I did. I really appreciate it because I think that we nailed it. 
This time around we wanted to inspire, share some of what we have done by telling stories and introduce some new web tools. We wanted to emphasize that most of the project…

Four Book Reviews by Teens for New YA Novels

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Bookmarked will be ending its run as the resident teen book review group for the bi-weekly online newsletter, SLJTeen,  in December. If you enjoy these reviews by my teens, don't despair because I will be posting reviews from them in this blog. Watch when I tweet out those reviews, or just be sure to visit this blog every now and then to find out what the teens are reading and what they think about those books. You can see by the four book covers pictured here which books were reviewed this past week. Read the November 20th edition of SLJTeen here




Author, Todd Mitchell, Skypes with Bookmarked

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On Monday, November 18th, the members of Bookmarked had the opportunity to talk with author, Todd Mitchell, via Skype. Todd's newest book, Backwards, was published last month. One of my students reviewed the book for SLJTeen, and the author and I made contact through that connection. I encouraged more students to read the book, and I read the book .


The students who had the chance to read the book were very curious about Todd's motivation for writing the story in the way that he did. In the book, the main character is living backwards inside a character who commits suicide. I am not giving away any spoilers because the book begins with the suicide. Todd told us that he will never write a book again with time shifting. He had to meticulously go through and add foreshadowing without giving away important plot points. There was lots of shushing throughout our discussion because the students who had not read the book yet wanted a chance to read it without knowing the final outcom…

Selecting a Title for the Middle School Book Group, BRiMS

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BRiMS, Books Rule in Middle School, met for the third time this year on October 30th. It was an easy decision to decide that horror would be our genre of choice for that particular meeting. Each student selected their own book. We went around the room sharing the titles of the books that we read and explaining why we liked or didn't like the book. Some of the shared books included: Mabury's Rot and Ruin about zombies; dystopian story, Monument 14, by Laybourne; Pit and the Pendulum by Poe, a classic; Croak by Damico which is not too scary but the characters are grim reapers; and the Harry Potter series, which the students thought the movies were scarier than the books. One student shared a story that he read online from creepypasta. He visits that site often to read stories that members can post. Since anyone who joins can post a story, not all the stories are quality, but he enjoys them nonetheless.
The next meeting is going to be in December. For the next scheduled meeting,…

Teens Review New Historical Fiction and Thriller

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When I asked the members of Bookmarked if anyone would be able to contribute to this week's SLJTeen, it was like pulling teeth. Sometimes the students get so overwhelmed with studies that they do not have time to read anything new. The president of Bookmarked realized that she needed to step up to the plate. So she chose a short book that was written in verse. She knew that she could read the book and get a review in to me in time. She is not a big fan of historical fiction, well, none of my students really are. You will be surprised by her review of Mariko Nagai's newest book. Another student was in her sick bed but was able to send me a review of Megan Miranda's thriller, Hysteria. The student didn't realize that the book's publication date was over six months ago. We try to submit SLJTeen reviews for books that have not been published yet. I have four students who promise me reviews for the next issue. SLJTeen is letting us go at the end of the year and a new t…

Character Day for Spirit Week Brings Books to Life

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Last week was Spirit Week at PFTSTA. Each day the students could wear outfits fitting the theme of the day. Thursday was Throwback Thursday. Those planning the activity envisioned students choosing a decade and dressing from the 60s, 70s or 80s or anytime before that. However, some of the students interpreted it to mean a throwback during their own lives. They came dressed in flannel pajama onesies. I thought that was clever and thinking outside of the box. 
On Friday, it was character day. Most of the characters that I saw walking around the building live in video games or save the world as super heroes. I grabbed a couple of pics of characters found in the pages of books. Of course, those would be my favorite types of characters. Below is a student who took her character from Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. She is a shadow hunter.


At every school, there are students who would like their school to be a little bit like Hogwarts. So when character day arrived, we were…

TRW13 was a Huge Success

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Every year, Bookmarked helps me create and design all the activities that we offer during Teen READ Week. I see this week as a time to get students into the library who do not usually visit or visit rarely. I offer games that students can play daily as well as something special for each day of the week during lunch. The idea is to get them excited about the library. It is exhausting. Especially so this year because I was teaching classes on research to all the 6th and 7th grade students along with the lunch time activities. 
I am still waiting for the entries for the annual bookmark contest to pour in, but all the other events have been chronicled with pics on the library website. Open here to see all the fun the students had last week.

Busy Teen Readers Review New Books from YA Authors

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In this week's edition of SLJTeen, four teens had their reviews published. The members of Boomarked are fans of a variety of genres and styles of writing. Find some of what they liked by opening the link here.









The Research Season has Begun

On Friday, I began teaching lessons on how to conduct good research. This is a yearly event where I spend lots of time with all the middle school students helping them to prepare for writing a paper for the social studies fair. This year, the students do not have to do a full blown social studies fair project, but all students are required to write a paper.They cannot get honors' credit for social studies without writing a research paper. Several years ago, the English department and I decided that we wanted the students to write quality papers for this project. If that was going to happen, then the papers needed to be started in English class.We have really developed a method for teaching research that we are proud of. It is truly collaborative. Since the paper does not have to be as long as in past years (social studies fair had length requirements), we have scaled  back the paper to make it more age appropriate.

To make the process more manageable for teachers and students, the…

Giving Back to the Library Profession

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I have been teaching for a long time. More than two thirds of that time has been as a school librarian. I spent 12 years in an elementary library and the last 10 in a middle and high library. I think that I have honed my skills to the point that I am at the top of my game. I have had several mentors that I looked up to over the years who helped me.through my journey, so now I think that it is important for me to help guide others. Of course, I think that I can learn from those just starting out, too. New librarians always have some new fresh ideas that I never considered. 
One of the ways that I have given back is to welcome students in library school to visit my library and interview me for class assignments. I have also had students completing a library practicum work in my library. I try to apply and make presentations at local and state conferences. This past Saturday, Charity Cantey, an LSU instructor who is also the librarian at the LSU lab school, invited me to speak to her cla…

JPPSS Librarians Meet in the New PFTSTA Library

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The librarians in the Jefferson Parish Public Schools don't get many opportunities to meet as a group. However, it is important for us to network because most of us are the only librarian in the building, and many can use some support and assistance with the new evaluation system, COMPASS. Also, there are many new librarians in the district who need guidance with available resources as well as some of the job expectations and requirements. On October 3rd, I invited all 75 librarians in the district to meet at Patrick Taylor for an after school meeting. We had 36 show up, and considering that the school is located in the far reaches of the Westbank, I think it was a great turn out. Lindsey Vindel, the Follett rep, shared how ebooks on  Follett Shelf work. Terry Young from West Jeff High School reviewed the evaluation system and how librarians should design the all important student learning targets (SLTs). We have created a wiki so that we can have a home for resources and documen…

PFTSTA Library is Ready for the 2013 Teen READ Week

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Teen READ Week is always a busy time in the PFTSTA Library. This year will be no different. You can visit the library website here to see all the planned activities for the week. You can even find links to the pics and activities from past Teen READ Week celebrations. We are looking to a fun-filled week in our brand new library. 

Two Reviews by Teens for Upcoming YA Books

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The members of Bookmarked only have a couple of months left to read and write reviews for the online newsletter, SLJTeen, from School Library Journal. We started this gig in June of 2012 and will submit our last review at the end of December. Until then, enjoy two new reviews here.

BRiMS Talks about Wonder by Palacio

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For the second meeting of BRiMS, the students sat down with their lunch and chips with salsa. We had selected the book, Wonder, by R J Palacio for everyone to read. Since some of the students had not read the book or had not finished the book, I found lots about the author and book to share with the group. Including the book trailer embedded below, an interview with the author by NPR about how she came to write the book and the website where students can sign the pledge to be kind, a movement that has taken off since the book was published.