Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quickie on ISTE as I Head to ALA

I returned home from ISTE and San Antonio on Wednesday evening. Today I had to unpack do some laundry and repack for my trip to Chicago for ALA. Too much to do and not enough time. 

All award winners walked on stage during the opening session

Lisa Valence and I showing off our new plaques
ISTE is made up of many SIGs or Special Interest Groups. The SIGMS is the group for Media Specialists. Open here for a description of our project on the SIGMS website. There was also an online article written about the winning projects in the School Library Journal newsletter Extra Helping. Open here to read the article

SIGMS breakfast
John Spencer on left and Donna MacDonald on right

One of my fav sessions of ISTE was the Mobile Flipped and Curated presented by a bevy of rock star librarians including: Joyce Valenza, Brenda Boyer, Gwyneth Jones, Michelle Luhtala and Shannon Miller. This is my storify that gives you the highlights of that talk with links to their wiki and many wonderful resources. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

ISTE Award

In August, we will be opening the new school year in a shiny new building. I will have a shiny new award to put on my wall in my new office. I have never had a library with my very own office. I can't wait to decorate the walls with this new plaque. Thanks ISTE and SIGMS for selecting the collaborative project that Lisa Valence and I created as the winner for the 2013 Technology Innovation Award at the secondary level. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Testing the iPad Mini to Post on My Blog

For Teacher Appreciation Week in May, our principal gave all the teachers at PFTSTA an iPad Mini. Very cool huh? I thought so. On Saturday, I head to San Antonio for ISTE. This will be my first conference with the Mini. I think that it is very freeing not to tote around a laptop, especially through the airport. Also, I have felt like a dinosaur with my bulky laptop and everyone else with an iPad in their hands.

I would like to blog from the conference. I know that technology does not always cooperate, so I thought that I needed to try it out before leaving town. I think that it is working, though my fingers are getting tired typing on the mini keyboard. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Reading for the Busy School Librarian

During the school year I don't get much time to choose what I want to read. If I have an author visit planned either face to face or virtual, I read that author's work in preparation of the visit. I have somewhere between 5 to 8 author visits every year. Once a month BRiMS, the middle school book group, reads a specific book, and I have to read that book to lead the discussion. I have been reviewing books for both School Library Journal and Library Media Connection for a year and a half. I am sent books to review, and sometimes I am reading two or three books a month to review. That doesn't happen often and when it does, it drives me crazy. I am also on the Louisiana Teen Reader's Choice committee and am helping to select the ten books for the next reader's choice award. There is a very long list of books with a 2012 copyright that I am suppose to read before the July 20th committee meeting. Not sure how I am gong to do that. I read approximately one book a week during the school year and try for more over the summer. 

This summer I am attending the ALA Annual Conference again. Getting to meet authors and listen to them talk about their books is a highlight of the conference for me. In anticipation of meeting award winning authors, I just finished two books that had been awarded 2013 Printz Honor Books. I was blown away by both of them and highly recommend these books to high schoolers. Benjamin Saenz's Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was so beautifully written and so lyrical. It is set in the contemporary period, but the boys' friendship and result of the friendship I think is timeless. As it starts during summer vacation for Ari and Dante, it is the perfect read just about now. I love that their friendship begins with swimming lessons. You would expect a 15 year old boy to know how to swim, but that is the beauty of the book, lots of surprises. The other book is an historical fiction. These are usual hard sells to the students in my school. I think that this one is going to  be eaten up because it is so wonderful. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is a spy story set during World War II. The fictional story focuses on two young women, one a spy and the other a pilot. Wein has done extensive research, and so all the jobs that are held by women in the story were actually held by women during the war. Some of the reviews of Wein's book contained spoilers. I think that the book needs to be read without much knowledge of what is to come. It makes it much more fun. However, I will tell you that I was sobbing at the end. It was a captivating story. I plan to recommend this one to adult friends who would enjoy an historical novel. I might even suggest it to my adult book group for everyone to read. 

In a few minutes after I post this, I am going to begin a new book. I have a huge stack ready to go, but I think that I am going to finish one of the series that I follow either Requiem by Lauren Oliver or Reached by Ally Condy. These third books in a trilogy have been out for awhile, and both have been on my to read list. Besides, they will be quick reads that I know I will enjoy.

Happy Reading, and may all your reads be good ones.  

Saturday, June 8, 2013

More Teen Reviews of YA Books

Find a new novel to read each month of the summer with this trio of titles reviewed by members of Bookmarked here in the June 5th edition of the online newsletter, SLJTeen. I was pleased to find out that Destiny B. was as big a fan of The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider as I was. I read and reviewed it for School Library Journal (SLJ). It was the very first book in over a year of reviewing for SLJ that I recommended for a star review. Most of what I am sent to read, I don't particular like. This one was different. I thought it was a great read. My review has not been published yet, so I can't share it with you here, but I sure hope that SLJ will star it like Kirkus did. That option is totally up to the editors.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gearing up for #ISTE13, Can't Wait

 In February, on a whim, my colleague, Lisa Valence and I applied for an ISTE award. ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education. This particular award is sponsored by the SIG MS or the Special Interest Group Media Specialists. The president-elect for this group is a fellow school librarian in Louisiana, Tiffany Whitehead, and she sent me an email encouraging me to apply. This particular award is given for a collaborative project between the librarian and a classroom teacher.

Our project was called, "Traveling to the Ninth Ward," and it began with the 7th grade students reading Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes and ended with a field trip to the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. There is a huge technology component to this project which is why the ISTE SIGMS awarded us their Technology Innovation Award.

Part of the award involves money to attend the ISTE conference in San Antonio in a few weeks. I haven't attended ISTE since it was held in New Orleans as NECC. I am super excited.

You can read a full press release about us and all the ISTE award winners here. Scroll down to the bottom to find Lisa and me (Elizabeth Kahn) mentioned.

Monday, June 3, 2013

All Packed Up and Ready for the Move West!

It took many days of heavy lifting and moving to get all 6700 volumes packed away as well as all the other equipment, computers and supplies. I had lots of assistance, and I hope that I can enlist some of that aid on the unpacking end, too. 

The picture above shows you the old library as the books get packed for the move. At this point in the process, I didn't think that it would ever get done. I was doing my yearly inventory while I packed so it was slow going. Lucky for me, once I finished inventory, I could corral some alums who were finished with college for the semester and were willing to give me some time to help with the packing. 

This is what the library looked like after everything was packed
Once the boxes get sent to the new site, I don't think that I will be looking back with any fondness for the old place. The building was not suited well to the school, and the library was grossly inadequate in size. At the end, I literally had books piled on top of books with no where to shelve them. On the other hand, I love working at Patrick Taylor Academy. The teachers and administration are great to work with, and the students are wonderful.

Click the picture to enlarge it
You can see from the picture above that our school is really moving south, not west. However, if you know New Orleans at all, then you can understand that the current location of the school is on the Eastbank of the Mississippi in Jefferson, LA. The new school is located on the Westbank in Avondale, LA. With the widening of the Huey P. Long bridge, the commute from the Eastbank will be made so much easier. PFTSTA draws students from the entire region, though most of the students live in Jefferson Parish where the school is located. The Jefferson Parish school district spans both sides of the river which is pretty common around here in southern Louisiana. We knew in 2006 when we moved into the dilapidated school on Jefferson Highway that the school would be moving to a brand new facility one day. It is just that we did not know that it would take seven years to make that move. 

This was taken on May 11th
The school is not quite finished. The principal has had tours through the new school numerous times, but none of the teachers have seen the inside yet. I am anxious to see the library. I don't even know what the furniture is going to look like. It is hard to wrap my head around setting up a brand new library when I haven't seen the space. Since construction began January 2012, I have tried  to visit the site at least once a month. It has been fun to watch it grow from dirt and pilings to what it is now. We will be opening in the new site in August no matter what because a charter school has leased the old building. Lots of pictures of the new library to come in future posts. 

If you visit Google maps and type in the address: 701 Churchill Parkway Avondale, LA, you will see this aerial view of the school. I have marked the location of the library. A lot has happened to the project since this picture was taken. The trailers have all been removed, and the concrete parking lots have all been poured. The blue that you see is covered in a silver tone and the school is painted a dark terracotta. It really is going to be a beautiful place to work. I will have lots of natural light and room and more room and storage and an office. It is going to be heaven. 

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