Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ellen Hopkins at OUR SCHOOL??? WHAT?!?!?

We must say, we're as surprised as the kids that we are getting this incredible author to come speak at our school. What's more, is that Ellen is going to give a lucky 100 students an extra hour of her time during a writing workshop the following morning. Everything is a bit of a blur at this point, but I think that we have things pretty much dialed. Nathan from Barnes and Noble has been not only effective in terms of keeping me calm about the book sales end of things, which is no easy task. We'll have Ellen's books available as well as some other titles that are relevant to Ellen's work. It's hard to believe that this is happening, but like anything else, the day will come and go. A big shout-out to Ellen ahead of time, and I hope she knows how much this is meaning to our kids. We have 63 copies of her six titles (and once had more but the reality is that these titles tend to be loved literally to death). This event will bring additional copies of both her books and others to not only our school but all of the high schools in our area. Thank you, Ellen!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Using 2.0 in the Classroom

There are so many amazing ways to engage kids online, and yet for one reason or another we shy away from using online tools in the classroom. Usually it's some form of paranoia about--you guessed it--porn. And yet, despite all of the federal regulations about CIPA, COPPA, and all of the other acronyms that censors (typically employed as technicians, not educators) stand behind, our kids are not getting the kind of practice that they need to analyze quality information when it seems like half of the sites that they try to go to are blocked.

We also shy away when we just don't know how to do something, or don't even know about it, yet. This is me, most of the time. I'm always feeling a couple of steps behind when it comes to 2.0. There are always more cool applications showing up online, more to learn, more to try to understand. I am constantly unsavvy, but I've almost gotten used to it. Luckily, I get to read about a lot of these applications on my listservs and learn about them at conference every year from far smarter people than myself.

What I think I've learned is that there are approximately kajillions of ways to engage students in their learning and increase achievement--and best of all, they're almost all free. And even if I don't know about all of them, or can't understand them, I can promote those few tricks in my pockets with everything I've got. Because it's worth it, well worth it to engage the kids.

According to Sue Patrick, former federal employee who helped to draft the National Ed Tech plan, kids are forced to "power down" both literally and figuratively when they walk in the classroom. I know that this is how it is at our school. Sure, you might get to go to a lab during a given day, but you had better hide your cell phone and iPod while you're in there. "Power down." I thought that was really an apropos description, but one that greatly troubled me and still does.

I've recently come to believe that it's all about product. Not the kind that you can get in any store, but the kind you can get the kids to make. There are countless (safe) ways for kids to have the opportunity to do something useful online as a result of a school assignment. Not only will this engage the kids, but they will also be learning necessary skills online, skills that are near impossible to learn while working around a stringent filter at school.

But blogging (responding to teacher blogging in the form of comments is an easy, cool assignment) Wikis (an effective document sharing website) and social networking groups such as Google Groups can all be ways to wed students to classes and make them more invested in not only what they are coming up with but what their peers are doing, as well. The logic? If they are aware that their classmates are going to have the opportunity to read their work, the odds are great that they will submit a higher-quality product. Nothing like some positive peer pressure!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Video Booktalks

A big shoutout to Mr. Davis for letting me videotape his kids giving booktalks. Everyone wins in this. Kids grow confidence, I get more booktalks for our SchoolTube Channel, a lot of fun overall! Great job freshmen, we know it's not easy but you are doing a GREAT job!

Teaching with Technology

I have a lot of hope around what's going on with our Technology committee these days. Our meetings have been esp. productive and I really think we are making progress. A lot of this has to do with Irene Frazier doing the organization and facilitating. It also has to do with some very hardy teachers who keep showing up at 7am to discuss how to best engage their students to increase achievement.

We are going to be starting a series of inservices that will really be of use and hopefully of interest to teachers.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Here We Are at Conference!!!

Wow! The amount of great ideas at conferences never cease to amaze me. But this year Mrs. Hestbeck and I are going to do our best to present our best ideas from home.

Ontario is frankly a shock compared to home. The conference center is lovely but the rest of the world is almost science fiction. There is concrete and highways everywhere you look.

We're managing, though, and learning a lot in a hurry. It is hard to take notes fast enough in some of these workshops. I hope that we manage to make someone glad that they attended our own presentation.

Great to see good friends, love hanging out with Annie in a spot other than our home library, but more than anything this place makes me appreciate more than ever what fantastic students and teachers we get to work with back home.

Homesick after just one night? Maybe a little.....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

All Kinds of News in the Library

We have some important announcements to make!

The library t-shirt contest is underway, which means that you too can have a chance to immortalize yourself in fabric! Past winners include Kemp Stanford, Nelson Hughes and Tiffanie Souza-Cone.

It's easy to enter--all you have to do is come up with a catchy phrase for the front of the shirt, and we'll do the rest (the back always says "@ the NU Library). Past winners include the fantastic slogans, "Get your read on" and "Seriously....Read a Book."

Limited quantities of past years' shirts are available, but they will definitely not last.

In other news, BOOK ORDERS are COOL again, hard to believe but true. They came up with a "teen reads" club and some of the books are seriously excellent and not beneath you. These are due back to the library a week from Friday, which is Sept. 25th. If you order from these catalogs, the library gets free books, which we're always looking for......which REMINDS us!!!!!

If you have any books at home that you no longer need, but are in decent condition.... please consider donating them to the NU Library for other kids to read. With the support of our excellent administration, we have built quite an amazing library collection, but we will always, always be looking to grow.

Finally, please check out our new video booktalks, which are housed on SchoolTube. We chose to upload to SchoolTube rather than YouTube because for one it is accessible at school, and for another the comments function is limited to only a few options. In other words, no one can be verbally abusive on SchoolTube, which is unfortunately a huge issue on YouTube (and lately, the tennis court!).

If you're interested, you can record a video booktalk, yourself! All you need to do is get a permission slip signed by a parent or guardian, and we're off!

A note to parents about video booktalks: We created this booktalk program after a lot of discussion and consideration about Internet safety. As a librarian I have done extensive research about Internet safety and feel that the benefits of posting video booktalks far outweighs any risk that may be involved. Many, many schools post videos on SchoolTube on a wide range of subjects and I feel that engaging students with technology is more crucial now than it has ever been.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Lovely Bones Soon to be Movie

Just learned that one of our most popular books in the library is going to become a movie in December--check out the trailer, it looks quite gripping: http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/thelovelybones/small.html