Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Where Has September Gone?

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I've posted.  That tells you how busy things have been, which is a good problem to have in a Media Center, right?

So let me fill you in on what's been going on...
I got a call at the end of August from our local area Target that our school had won their Books for Schools Award which meant that we received $500 in free books from First Book.  We were able to get almost 200 new books with this grant.  I've been working like a mad woman trying to get all these books cataloged, labeled and ready for check out.  Look at our haul:

These were some of my favorite titles.

And I think I know some patrons who will be fighting each other to be the first to check these out.  Too funny!
I still have to schedule a "reading event' with Target.  Not quite sure what that involves, except for a photographic opportunity.  I am excited to let the kids see all the new books, though, so I will be scheduling our "reading event" very soon.
I've also been working with the 2nd-5th graders on locating books in the library using both Destiny via the Internet and the Destiny Quest app on the iPad.  It seems like no matter how many times I go over how to search for a book, there are some kiddos who just aren't catching on. So I thought maybe a little handson practice would help. 

I paired this lesson up with a lesson about traditional literature, which is our Genre of the Month for September.  I had students look up six different types of traditional literature with a specific AR level and write down the first book that came up in that list.  Students were divided up into 5 different groups by drawing sticks out of a can.  Each person in the group got a chance to look up one type of book and write down their answer, but everyone in the group was allowed to help come up with the correct answer.

Here is the list that the students used, if you're interested.

And here is what they put their answers on.

I think that lesson helped a little because I am seeing more students use the iPads as well as the computers to find books.  I am also seeing more students help other students locate books using Destiny. So slowy, but surely, I think I am getting through to them.

In between processing books and lesson planning/creating, I've also been reading a few more books, but I will save those for another post.

So what have you been up to this September?  Has it been a super fast month for you as well?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September Reading Spotlight Poster

Just a quick freebie for you...this month's spotlight author is Tomie dePoala.

Snag your free poster here or click on the picture above.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Summer Reading Part 3, the Finale

Just a little funny I found on Pinterest to brighten your day!  But seriously, I really do wish I had more time to read.  It's almost torture being surrounded by books all day and not having time to read any of them.  I definitely take advantage of long school breaks and try to fit in reading as many books as possible during that time.  That's exactly what I did this summer.

Since the official end to the summer is almost here, I thought I would wrap up my Summer Reading list for you.  As you may recall, I was on a roll reading several "girlie" books and several "boyish" books at a time.  Here are the details for the last books I have read:

The Genius Files was an action packed, mystery-type book.  As I read the first chapter of this book, I immediately thought of my ten year old son who is obsessed with all things spy related.  There are hidden codes throughout the books that you can crack by finding out what the code is in the story.  The reader is also encouraged to use the Internet to look up information mentioned in the story line throughout the book. My son kept the iPad next to him as he was reading so that he could look things as he went along.  Little did he know that he was learning ways to search for information by doing this.  What a great way to make a book interactive!  Super fun book, and it is also a part of series.  The next book is definitely going on my wish list.

The Car was not my favorite book.  The storyline had a lot of techical jargon in it regarding cars and car parts that I really couldn't follow.  The jest of the plot is that the main character, a fourteen year old boy, hitch-hikes across the country with a homeless man who is very much a part of the sixties generation, to find his uncle because both of his parents have abandoned him.  Well, actually both of his parent left one another at the same time not realizing the other one had left and just assumed the other one would take care of the boy.  This left the boy without any guardians, so he builds a car with parts his father left in the garage and treks across the county in search of his uncle whom he hopes will take him in.  He has several adventures along the way with his hippie friend including an encounter with a naked woman.  The plot alone was enough for me to think this book did not belong in an elementary Media Center, but the naked woman pushed it over the edge.  I have since sent the book along to a middle school media center where the readers might be mature enough to handle the content of this book.

After reading The Car, I was anxious to read books that were a bit more "girlie" and opted for these two books:

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These books were parts six and seven of the My Sister the Vampire series.  Both books had more to do with the puppy love relationship of the girls in the book with their boyfriends than with vampires.  There were a few vampy references in the book and even a visit to Transyvania in one of the books, but no blood or gore.  I think this series is perfect for an elementary level media center because it will satisfy those readers looking for books about vampires without really being about vampires.  I am looking into adding more books from this series to our collection.

Next I tackled The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, which is a Georgia Book Award nominee for 2012.  This book is about a Chinese American girl, Lucy, the middle child in her family, who ends up having to share her room with her great aunt who speaks very little English.  Lucy builds a sort of wall in her room to keep from having to socialize with her great aunt. Most of the book is about how much she hates having to share her room and how much she loves playing basketball. This book was very difficult for me to get into, but by about half way through the book, I started to enjoy it.  I think it would be good to add this book to an elementary media center because of its multiculturalness (did I just make up a word?), especially if you have Chinese American students at your school.

After reading those books, I went back to the "guy" books.  First I read

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Following the same format as the notebook fiction books that came before it (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, etc), the Loser List books tell the story of nerdy middle school boy who is trying to avoid the school bullies and ends up learing some life lessons along the way.  The storyline is mild enough for elementary media centers to carry, but mature enough that even middle school readers will enjoy it.

Next I read

The Chocoalte Touch by Patrick Skene Catling had a promising cover, so I grabbed it from the shelves.  While it was a cute story, a cross between the Midas Touch and a Bad Case of Stripes, it was a bit dated.  Some of the jargan in the book would not be used today and the  illustrations on the inside pages were much less intriguing that the outside cover.  This book would appeal to lower elementary grades, but I don't think upper elementary students would care for it too much.

Warp Speed by Lisa Yee was another teen on the run from the school bullies story, but it was quirky enough to be funny, too.  In the story, the main character runs all over the place to get away from the resident school bullies and ends up being recruited for the track team because of his speed.  I think my older students would enjoy this book not only for its humor, but also for its message of perserverance.

Sleuth or Dare: Partners in Crime, another book in series, is a kind of modern day Nancy Drew set of books. This particular book stars two girls set in a modern day American town who set up a detective agency website as part of a school project and actually get a client.  Readers will enjoy trying to figure out who the mystery client is as the case gets closer and closer to being solved.

I was a little surprised to find out that fairies have a darker side, but that is exactly what 13 Treasures is about.  A young girl must figure out how to live with the fairies that only she sees while the fairies find ways to torment her.  13 Treasures is the perfect book for your fairy-loving readers who also like a bit of horror.  It is the first in a trilogy.

What a cute book!  Oggie Cooder is a young boy with a unique talent of "charving" cheese (charving is a cross between chewing and carving) into the shape of the different states.  Oggie's quirkiness doesn't stop there, but he is full of self-esteem which gets him through many days of being made fun of by his classmates.  He kind of reminds me of a male Junie B. Jones.  Oggie Cooder is one of those feel good kind of books, perfect for younger elementary students.

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I ended my summer reading with these two School of Fear books.  I really thought, based on the covers of these books, that they would be "scary" books, but instead they turned out to be funny books about kids with fears who get sent to the School of Fear to cure them of their fears.  Although these books were not what I expected, I enjoyed the (mis)adventures of the students, or contestants as they are referred to in the book.  While their fears are not totally cured (Daneshvari has to leave something for the last book in the trilogy), they do learn to deal with the fears in a more rational way, even if they learned to do so by a rather unconviential means. I am definitely going to be adding the third book in the trilogy, The Final Exam, to our collection.

 You can read all about the other books I read this summer by going here and here.

Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom of this post.  As a reward, please enjoy this cute YouTube video entitled Read It Maybe, and try not to sing along.  I dare ya!

*I'm an affiliate for things I've bought or used personally.  If you click through any referral links (if included), at no cost to you, I will earn a commission if you make a purchase.  Thank you for your support in this way.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Genres, iPads, QR Codes, a Guest Author, and MORE!

August may have started off slow, but it sure did pick up pace by the end of the month.  Between orientations, iPads,  first check outs, and an author visit, I was wore out and ready for Labor Day.  Here's what we've been up to.

Check out began three weeks ago.  Students were super eager to get their hands on the Wildcat Favorites books.  You can see how well the first week of checkout went by looking at the before and after pictures of the Wildcat Favorite section, especially on the second shelf. This is where all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, and Dear Dumb Diary books are kept.

Two weeks ago I introduced second-fifth grades to our first Genre of the Month for the year:  biogrpahies and autobigraphies.  I went over the information more as a review for third-fifth graders since I covered biographies and autobiographies last year, but I still wanted everyone to practice identifying each kind.

I used this PowerPoint to discuss what biographies and autobiographies are and where they can be located in the Media Center.   I also reviewed how to search Destiny, our online catalog, to find not only biographies and autobiographies, but whatever books they happen to need or want.  You are welcome to download and use it. I have taken out the information about where to find these books in the Media Center as it was specific to my school.

At the end of the lesson, students completed this activity identifying biographies and autobiographies based on their title, author, and call number.  This is similar to an activity I did last year.   I changed most of the titles, but the way in which the worksheet is completed is the same.  Students worked in groups of 5 or 6 to come up with their answers and then we checked answers using a free QR code reader app called i-nigma.  We had no problems with this app.  I am not being paid to evaluate i-nigma; just stating my opinion about it.  It was very user-friendly.  You can read more about i-nigma here.

To make the activity a bit more interesting, I loaded the seven questions that are on the worksheet on the 5 iPads we have in the Media Center with an app called SlideShark.  This is also a free app.  Again, I have not been paid to evaluate this app; I am only stating my opinion of it.  It worked beautifully for me.  It was very easy to use.  What I like best about SlideShark is that the animations I had programed in my PowerPoint still worked in SlideShark.  You can read more about SlideShark here.

I had my concerns about the students using the iPads, especially when they had to pick them up to scan a QR Code, but they did great.  Everyone seem to enjoy the lesson even though most of them were already familiar with biographies and autobigraphies.  They stayed engaged because they all wanted a chance to use the iPad.  I was also happy to see that most students handled the iPads with great care.

During this same week, we had a special guest author come visit our school.  His name is Michael Finklea.  He writes children's books and is with Ozark Publishing.  He will come to your school for free.  He just asks that you give him time after his presentation to sell his books.

This kids LOVED him. They thought he was funny and couldn't wait to purchase a book from him.  He autographed anything they bought.   You can found more information about Michael Finklea at http://www.michaelfinklea.net/

The Book Tweet board has been a big hit with fourth and fifth graders.  Most of the time, all the "Tweet Strips" are full by Wednesday.  I erase them every Friday and let students fill them up again.  It's funny what kids will get excited about.  Sometimes it's the simplest things that have the most impact.

Check out some of their "tweets."

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

And the first iReaders of the year were turned in.  There have now been about 30 iReaders turned in with four weeks left to go.  The fourth and fifth graders have been reading like crazy!  I guess that means I picked some good prizes to bribe them into reading.  LOL  Whatever it takes, right?

So that's how I began my year.  What about you?   Are you in the swing of things or just getting started?  I'd love to hear from you!