Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Author, Jen Calonita, Shares Stories on Becoming a Writer

I am the one on the left!
A month or so ago I heard that we might have a visit from author Jen Calonita. Then I didn't hear anything confirming the date and time. I got so busy that I forgot to email or call to make sure we were on her schedule in New Orleans. Then it got to crunch time, and I was heading out of town for two days to attend the Louisiana Library Association annual conference. I needed to plan our visit. I don't like to do things last minute. It all worked as we were well prepared for her visit, but I did only have a handful of days to get ready. That just makes me crazy. 

I certainly like meeting new authors, but since BRiMS had skyped with Jen in 2015, I was pumped to meet her face to face. When we talked to her in 2015, only the first book in the Fairy Tale Reform School series had been published. For this visit, Jen was kicking off the publication of the third book. After hearing her talk, the students who bought the first book went home that night and promptly finished it. I had purchased multiple copies for the library for our skype session, and all of those were checked out the next day by students who couldn't wait to begin reading. I love how an author has that effect on the students. Every time an author comes to our school, students will hesitate about buying the book before the big day. I always tell them to bring their money and decide after the talk if they want to purchase the book. Invariably, they choose to get the book. 

The students enjoyed what Jen had to say about her journey from young reader to writer. She left time for many questions at the end of her talk. The students asked great questions. Why does she have to rename the fairy tale characters? It is a shame to me that students tend to think of fairy tales in terms of the Disney versions as definitive. Of course, copyright law will not allow her to use the Disney name for any of her characters. Same goes with the question about putting a Harry Potter character into her story. 

Happy Readers!

When the talk was over, there was time for signing books. Many of the students who attended last year's skype went up to Jen to ask if she remembered them and their question. She didn't remember them of course, but she did remember many of their questions. One student had asked her about Bluebeard the Pirate, who she was going to include in a later book, and because they student had read widely on the subject of the pirate the two had discussed what is known about him. Another student had suggested Cursed as a future book title as all the titles were going to be one word and verbs. Though Jen loved the idea of Cursed, it hasn't made it on the cover of a book, yet. 

Getting authors to our school would not be possible without the kind generosity of the publisher (in this case Source Books) and a local bookstore (in this case Octavia Books). Patrick Taylor Academy is author friendly, and we love having visitors to our school who get to meet and learn from our awesome students. See lots more pictures of the day on the library website

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lesson in the Library on How to Spot Fake News

I know that my students need help in assessing the validity of information that they find on the web. So I approached one of the English I teachers to see if she would like a lesson on how to discern the difference between fake and real news. Her students were starting Animal Farm by George Orwell. We thought this would be the perfect place to insert my lesson as propaganda plays a key role in the story as well as the Squealer's ability to adjust the facts to fit his own logic to get the animals to do his bidding. 

Designed using results from Media Bias/Fact Check
So I created a slide show that would direct students to various tasks using web tools that would allow them to look at websites and news feeds in a new way. I like to start a lesson with something to grab students attention. I have used giphs or memes, but for this lesson I found a fabulous video that you will find linked on the second slide. The author of Broadcast Hysteria, A. Brad Schwartz, put together a seven minute video about his book using excellent vintage photos and videos to evoke the feel of the 1938 War of the Worlds' broadcast. To find the web tools, I started with a Huffington Post story and then moved on to tools promoted by November Learning. Then I read about the Media Bias/Fact Check website. I don't remember how I found that one. Maybe it was on the New York Times. Finally, I found a great infographic where they had used the Media Bias//Fact Check website to fit different news media on a continuum from left to right. You can see that infographic pictured above.

In some of the tasks that I give to my students, I use two of my own websites as examples. I ask them who has registered our school library website: It was me. Also, I ask them to find out who has linked to this blog, and if they think those links give the blog that I write credibility in school library world.

Student response on Padlet

Below is my slide show. Please feel free to copy it and make it your own to use at your school. You may want to edit the links for my library to something that you own. I have also included Padlets at the end of the slide show for the students to reflect on what they learned and what else they might like to know. Those Padlets are now closed, but you may read them or you may want to create your own for your students.The lesson in its entirety took about 75 minutes. On the slides where the students had to open links and read articles, I gave them plenty of time to read. Also, we were having some Internet issues, and so you will find screenshots embedded in the slides just in case the students could not open the links. I wanted this to be a hands on activity, but we cannot always count on the Internet when we need it. I was thrilled with how this lesson turned out, and I had my principal observe me during one of the presentations for my official spring observation. 

Open here for a link to the Google Slide Show. You may make a copy and edit to fit your needs. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Presentation on the Research Process for Louisiana Librarians

When March rolls around, I better be prepared for the annual Louisiana Librarian Association Conference. This year, I will be heading to Lafayette on Wednesday. I am going to be presenting twice.

The presentation that I planned is how to manage the research process for middle and high school students. I have given this presentation before in a bit different format to teachers but never to a group of librarians. I am sharing the slide show for this presentation with you below, and you can find links embedded in the slides to view all the tools that I have created for my students. Please note that many of the points that I make in the presentation may be something that we take for granted as librarians. My point in reiterating them in the presentation is that it is important to teach both your teachers and students the importance of following correct format, using varied sources, citing correctly, etc. If we know how to follow correct research practices, it is our job to teach it and make sure that our teachers follow through in the classroom. 
This is how the presentation reads in the conference brochure

I don't like to do anything at the last minute, but I really wanted to bring the teacher's voice to my presentation on research and the importance of collaboration. Today, the day before I present,  I recorded Cheryl Bordelon, the chair of the English department. I asked some questions about the importance of research, and she kindly answered. 
Hear her answers below. 
English teacher talks about research and collaborating with librarian from Elizabeth Kahn on Vimeo.
The other presentation that I will be doing is for the Louisiana Teen's Reader's Choice Awards. This session is designed to present the books that were selected for the 2018 awards. I am on the state committee to select the books, and I will help by booktalking Nimona by Stevenson, All the Bright Places by Niven, and Dumplin' by Murphy. You can find download the full list of the 2018 LTRC books here
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