Saturday, 31 December 2016

February's picks

Books choices for February. Book covers and blurbs from Goodreads. Vote here

1. Poison's Kiss by Breanna Shields

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya a poison maiden is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

2. A List of Cages by Robin Roe

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he's got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn't easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can't complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian--the foster brother he hasn't seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He's still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what's really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

3. Air by Ryan Gattis

When 17-year-old Grey witnesses the tragic death of his mother in Colorado, he is shipped off to live with his aunt in inner-city Baltimore. Grey struggles to fit in to his new school and environment until his new friend, Akil, introduces him to the enigmatic Kurtis, the leader of a group that uses high-octane sports as a form of social activism. By challenging the police with death-defying stunts and then posting videos of them online, Kurtis, Grey, and their group become unlikely heroes in the fight against the prejudice that surrounds them. 
As Kurtis takes Grey under his wing, they come up with a name, an insignia and attract more and more followers to their extreme acts. The lines between social activism and criminal behavior blur and their escalating stunts become a rallying point for the underprivileged and disenfranchised around the country, spreading like wildfire across the Internet. How far will Grey and Kurtis go to push their message, and can their fragile alliance withstand their growing power?

4. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

5 things I most proud of from 2016

It's that time of year when I reflect on the last 12 months and recognize what I have accomplished and where I need to grow. I've had an awesome year and am very proud of the library program we are running at CNB. The five things I'm most proud of are:

1. Advocacy. This September I found myself with yet another new principal. I sighed as I knew that I had a long road ahead of me explaining to my prinicpal what it is that I do. I was especially concerned as his previous school didn't have a teacher librarian. My last principal told me to continue having monthly meetings with my new administrator to go over my monthly reports as it is a great opportunity to showcase my work. I have been doing that and I had felt like my principal was starting to understand my role in the building but this was confirmed when I asked him to write a letter of support for a grant application I was putting together. When I read the draft, I was blown away and when I handed it to him, my feedback was, "This letter is awesome. You do understand what I am doing!". Advocacy is very hard but I feel like I am finally getting the hang of it.

2. Embedding skills. I have also made the commitment to really embed skills within each project that comes through the library. I was apprehensive about my aggressive approach with teachers as I know that teachers are already feeling the pressure of time. The grade 7 Humanities teachers and I decided to take a day and teach the structure of PBL and it was extremely successful. We created a PBL road map to show students the structure and then used that road map in our first Social Studies PBL project and I felt it went much smoother. I then talked to the Math/Science 7 teachers and took two of their classes to teach the grade 7s note taking and then non-fiction text features. Both of those lessons were well received. The grade 9 Social Studies teachers and I created a one day lesson for the grade 9s on how not to plagiarize by teaching them how to summarize, paraphrase, and quote. Next challenge: scheduling the grade 8s in the library for some lessons.

3. Awards. This September, two colleagues and I received the Government of Canada's History teaching award for a PBL project we designed and implemented. I am very proud of this award because it highlights the wonderful teaching that is going on at CNB; teachers are cutting edge, looking at the curriculum to create innovative projects, and doing this all through collaboration. I also received the Diana Poole Memorial Award as the BC teacher librarian of the year. This award is an incredible honor and is something I will always cherish.

4. Speaking. I am an introvert and I am terrified of public speaking. I have been, over the last few years, challenging myself to speak more often. I've signed myself up to present at conferences and then berated myself every moment after signing up until the actual presentation was over with. I presented at the BCTLA conference in October and I also delivered my acceptance speech at that same conference and felt that both went better than expected. I feel like I am slowly getting better at conquering my nerves but I recognize that I still have a long road ahead of me.

5. Technology. I'm not one of those tech savvy tls that's on the cutting edge of everything. This year I have really tried to set up my game around technology - I have taken on running the virtual field trips, I've embraced GAFE and hope to implement it at my school, and I'm trying new web tools more frequently.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Questions for This is Our Story

Q1 Initial thoughts? Likes and dislikes?
Q2 Did you find Kate a believable character?
Q3 How did you manage to keep the characters straight?
Q4 Who did you suspect?
Q5 What did you think of the ending?
Q6 Other titles like this to recommend?

Friday, 2 December 2016

January picks

Book covers and blurbs are from Goodreads. Vote here

1. The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

2. Teach Me to Forget by Erica M. Chapman

This is the story of Ellery, a girl who learns how to live while waiting for the date she chose to die.

Ellery's bought the gun, made arrangements for her funeral, and even picked the day. A Wednesday. Everything has fallen into place. Now all she has to do is die.

When her plans go awry and the gun she was going to kill herself with breaks, she does the one thing she has control over--return it and get a new one. After tormenting the crusty customer service associate by trying to return the gun with the wrong receipt, Ellery gets caught by the security guard who also happens to be someone she knows--the annoyingly perfect Colter Sawyer from her English class.

3. The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane

According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place—and she’s just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head—and her home state—and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens.

Zander does not fit in—or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There’s her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar.

But amid group “share-apy” sessions and forbidden late-night outings, unlikely friendships form, and as the Michigan summer heats up, the four teens begin to reveal their tragic secrets. Zander finds herself inextricably drawn to Grover’s earnest charms, and she begins to wonder if she could be happy. But first she must come completely unraveled to have any hope of putting herself back together again.

4. Shooter by Caroline Pignat

A lockdown catches five grade 12 students by surprise and throws them together in the only unlocked room on that empty third floor wing: the boys' washroom. They sit in silence, judging each other by what they see, by the stories they've heard over the years. Stuck here with them--could anything be worse?
There's Alice: an introverted writer, trapped in the role of big sister to her older autistic brother, Noah.
Isabelle: the popular, high-achieving, student council president, whose greatest performance is her everyday life.
Hogan: an ex-football player with a troubled past and a hopeless future.
Xander: that socially awkward guy hiding behind the camera, whose candid pictures of school life, especially those of Isabelle, have brought him more trouble than answers.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Books and Breakfast

We've been doing Books and Breakfast every year in the library for at least the last 7 years. Each December, we pull all the nonfiction books we have purchased in the last year and put all the resources out on display. There is also coffee and tea as well as baking available for teachers to snack on. We make the library available to teachers only from 8-9 and invite teachers to come and browse the resources.

Why I love Books and Breakfast

1. Teachers get to see firsthand the new resources which we arrange according to subject. We all know how valuable it is to have the time to pick up books and flip through them, but this rarely happens in our busy school day.

2. A whole bunch of teachers in the library with books and food means that conversations happen and when there are conversations, ideas are shared which spark new ideas.

3. As teachers move forward in their planning for the school year, hopefully they'll remember the new resources that they can tap into. And that they'll tap into the library program and teacher librarian in the process.

I also love seeing how we have spent the library budget on nonfiction resources over a period of 12 months across 2 school years. I'm always amazed at the wide range of purchases both in terms of topic and reading level.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

December picks

Photos and book blurbs from Goodreads. You can vote here

1. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

2.  We are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen
Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends their entire lives. Cath would help Scott with his English homework, he would make her mix tapes (it's the 80's after all), and any fight they had would be forgotten over TV and cookies. But now they've graduated high school and Cath is off to college while Scott is at home pursuing his musical dreams.

During their first year apart, Scott and Cath's letters help them understand heartache, annoying roommates, family drama and the pressure to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they want to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should be more than friends? The only thing that's clear is that change is an inescapable part of growing up. And the friends who help us navigate it share an unshakable bond.

3. This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
No one knows what happened that morning at River Point. Five boys went hunting. Four came back. The boys won’t say who fired the shot that killed their friend; the evidence shows it could have been any one of them. 

Kate Marino’s senior year internship at the District Attorney’s Office isn’t exactly glamorous—more like an excuse to leave school early that looks good on college applications. Then the DA hands her boss, Mr. Stone, the biggest case her small town of Belle Terre has ever seen. The River Point Boys are all anyone can talk about. Despite their damning toxicology reports the morning of the accident, the DA wants the boys’ case swept under the rug. He owes his political office to their powerful families.

4. Scythe by Neal Shusterman
In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). Citra and Rowan are teenagers who have been selected to be scythe’s apprentices, and—despite wanting nothing to do with the vocation—they must learn the art of killing and come to understand the necessity of what they do.

Only one of them will be chosen as a scythe’s apprentice. And when it becomes clear that the winning apprentice’s first task will be to glean the loser, Citra and Rowan are pitted against one another in a fight for their lives.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

BCTLA conference

What an incredible day of professional development on October 21st down at Byrne Creek Secondary in Burnaby. The BCTLA planning committee outdid themselves by having The Daring Librarian, Gwyneth Jones, as the keynote presenter. Jones set the tone for the conference with her humour and stories from life in the trenches. She highlighted various tools from Vine to Kahoot to BrainPop that teacher librarians can use to become technology troopers. It was good to revisit digital resources that I had forgotten about and see new ways of incorporating them into projects. I was also inspired to try something new and have a list of tools to go and play around with. I also attended her second session, Mobile Media in the Library and Classroom, and left with yet another page of new ideas to try.

My third session was about Breakout Edu. I purchased a Breakout box last year and I've played around with it but I haven't seen it go out. It was interesting to see Breakout happen with a group of adults who didn't know each other. I think that Breakout looks very different with adults than it does with students. I decided that I really need to encourage teachers to take the risk and try Breakout Edu with their classes. As a result, I've made a note to schedule a Mesopotamia Breakout with the grade 7s when I get back.

After attending a teacher librarian conference, I am always amazed at the level of innovation and creativity that teacher librarians employ in developing an adaptive, cutting-edge library program. I always leave re-invigorated and eager to try new things and this BCTLA conference was no different.

For more information about Gwyneth Jones, aka The Daring Librarian, check out her website here

If you want more information about Breakout Edu, check out their website here