Friday, 2 December 2016

January picks

Book covers and blurbs are from Goodreads.

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

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Diana Poole Memorial Award - BC TL of the year

It's been a whirlwind since it was announced in June that I was the recipient of the Diana Poole Memorial Award - the BC teacher librarian of the year for 2016. Since that was revealed, I've been interviewed for the local paper, asked to write an article, and acknowledged at a school board meeting. It's been interesting because I really don't like being in the limelight but I am passionate about highlighting what teacher librarians do. Advocacy takes many different forms.

This past weekend at the BCTLA conference in Burnaby I was officially honored and presented with the award. As always, I am incredibly in awe of my fellow teacher librarians and their passion, intelligence, and ingenuity around teacher librarianship. I had the opportunity to talk with one of the Val Hamilton lifetime Achievement recipients and I was inspired by her enthusiasm, insight, and down to earth approach to library programs.

Receiving this award has been a tremendous honour.

My acceptance speech:
Thank you for this incredible honour.
Before I became a teacher librarian, I job shadowed the legendary Sharon Bede who at the time was at Mount Boucherie. I thought I was going to sit down and talk with her about teacher librarianship and maybe chat a bit about books. Imagine my shock when I walked into her library and saw her at the circulation desk, a desk in absolute disarray with seemingly random piles of books, open and dog eared magazines, and bits and pieces of paper. And here I thought teacher librarians were organized! There was no sitting and talking with Sharon as she was constantly moving – grabbing random books, checking in with students, and monitoring her computer. And talking! Well, I don't think she was able to string more than two sentences together before she was interrupted by a student, a teacher, or the library assistant. Don't even get me started about how she and the library assistant spoke, as I wondered if they had their own language as random sentence fragments were clearly understood. I left that job shadow and headed back to my school where I confided to my teacher librarian that I didn't think I could be a tl. She assured me that I'd be an excellent teacher librarian. But, I explained to her, I still didn't really understand what was teacher librarians do.
That was well over a decade ago and now the CNB library is my second home. It looks like a bomb went off on my circulation desk and my library assistant knows not to throw out a single piece of paper no matter what illegible scribble might be on it and she understands when to swoop in, distract, or pick up pieces. And as for stringing more than two sentences together? That never happens in my library either. But you know what has stayed with me the most from my job shadowing experience? That after being with Sharon for half a day, I had no idea what it was that she was doing.  It was this that has shaped my advocacy – I cannot advocate for a fulltime TL and a fully funded library program if teachers, administrators, students, and parents are unclear as to what it is that I, as a teacher librarian does.
With this school year ahead of us, I urge each one of you to be quietly aggressive and educate as many as possible as to what it is a teacher librarian does. Take photos of what goes on in a day, tweet out, tag your administrator –or trustee or superintendent, do monthly reports and meet and talk with admin about them, tell admin what your year goals are and what your vision of the library program is. Show them that the library is the hub of the building and the teacher librarian is the heart. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Get teachers into the library space and using resources – print, digital and you. And if they won't leave their classrooms then slide into theirs. Use the new curriculum as way to establish new connections.  Persevere and promote so that when someone asks your administration what it is that a teacher librarian does they'll actually know and their answer will start with: "Everything"

Sunday, 2 October 2016

3 faves from September

And the blur of September has passed. I didn't do as much reading as I usually do in a month, but startup tends to make life hectic.

My favourite reads from this month are:

Non fiction
Women in Science - 50 fearless pioneers who changed the world by Rachel Ignotofsky

A beautiful and much needed addition to the science collection at my school. 50 female scientists, recorded in chronological order. What I love about this book is the layout. Each scientist is given her own page with beautiful illustrations. This book is inviting and informative. In fact, I had a science teacher who wandered through the library, saw this book, flipped through it and commented on how good it was. Now I want Ignotofsky to write an equally stunning book on Men in Science to help update my scientist section.

Graphic novel
Snow White by Matt Phelan

Very rarely does a graphic novel catch me completely off guard. From the outset, with its beautifully designed cover, this book lured me in. I loved the modern retelling of Snow White and could see students loving this book. I did recommend it to a student and she came back gushing about how beautiful it was. A graphic novel that really relies on its art to tell the story. A great addition to any graphic novel collection.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

One of those reads that will stay with you. This story reminded me very much of To Kill a Mockingbird though I think it could be used with younger grades. A book about how prejudice people can be and how truth is often very elusive, this is a must read.

November's read #yabookchat

Here are the blurbs, courtesy of Goodreads, of the potential November reads. Vote here

1. Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

2. Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

3. Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

4. Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind.