Saturday, September 29, 2012

Book Spine Poetry...

In an effort to teach grade 7 students how to create and use resource lists for citation purposes we gave them a challenge of creating a book spine poem in 10 minutes on the topic of Knowledge. They also had to create a correct citation list for their books.Most groups finished well with their photo and list complete - they could only achieve this if they used the resource list option in Destiny Quest our LMS.

Good job Grade 7 - I hope they can remember how to do this when they have research assignments.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book 74 - Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to not Reading - USA

It is almost sacrilege to follow a review of 'The Book Whisperer' with a book with this title. I guess the title is what makes it so appealing. The story line is interesting. The main character hates reading so much he pays another student to read and write book reports for him - well buys him food. When suddenly his surrogate reader decides to stop Charlie Joe Jackson has to suddenly find a substitute. He has a huge assignment coming up which involves a lot of reading.

This book is very funny. Written in first person by Charlie he vows to keep the chapters short as he knows other children out there hate reading too. However, as his story gets more complicated he simply can't help himself but to write longer chapters. 

This funny exploration of plagiarism and academic honesty is a great read. I enjoyed every minute - but don't tell Charlie Joe.

Tommy Greenwald's Blog            P.S Charlie Joe supports libraries - see trailer below.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Book Whisperer - ideas into action

I have talked to so many people about this book - as I was starting to read it, while I was reading it and after I finished reading it. Do not be surprised if you see more blog posts about it and the ideas Donalyn Miller shares.

Donalyn Miller is a teacher in Texas. She teaches language arts to grade 6. At the start of every school year she challenges the students to read 40 books that year. That is their goal. They can choose the books themselves. They do not have to write endless book reports or complete worksheets about the books. All they are asked to do is to read and keep a journal reflecting on their reading. In this journal they keep notes about books they would like to read in the future. Books other students tell them about. Donalyn sets herself a goal as well. Her goal is that by the end of the year every student in her class will have a love of reading.

Sounds like an impossible dream? I can imagine some of the students in her class being absolutely shocked at the thought of reading 40 books. Yet every year they all reach the goal. Many read more than 40 books. Her students score above the state standard levels in the standards tests every year. Donalyn teaches reading skills, comprehensions skills, all the necessary content for the language arts programme through the books her students choose for themselves. 

This is a librarian's dream. I was waiting expectantly for the pages Donalyn would devote to her class trips to the library. I was keen to read all the tips and anecdotes about how they modelled and taught book selection, book sharing, reading widely. There are two pages where Donalyn mentions her weekly or fortnightly visit to the library and that is it. No mention of partnership, collaboration. It is a positive experience admittedly but it is only a two page mention. Instead Donalyn exhorts teachers to develop their own class libraries, she has hundreds of books in her own library. 

Don't misunderstand me - I am not disappointed in this book. I am inspired by it. I love that Donalyn herself is an avid reader, that she enthuses so many students about reading. I am disappointed about the silence in the book about what an awesome resource the school library can be for such a programme. I crave to read about the partnership the school librarian can have with such a teacher. 

What can I implement in our library from this book? I am going to put this book in as many teachers' hands as possible. I am going to model how to choose books. I am going to encourage student voices to talk about their reading, their enjoyment and their selections. Already we have had wonderful times with grade 7, grade 3 on the rights of the reader and grade 4 are due in on Monday. All at the invitation of their teachers. I would love our school to become a book whispering school.

For more about Donalyn - she has this website - The Book Whisperer Please read her book, be inspired and then talk to me about how librarians can encourage teachers who want to be book whisperers in their own classrooms. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book 73 - Tall Story by Candy Gourlay - Philippines and England

How can you love a brother who is on the other side of the planet? How can you know a sister how lives in a large city, in a country you have never been permitted to enter? Andi and Bernado are siblings. Andi, short for Amandolina, had been born in England. Her mother had gone there from the Philippines looking for work. She had left her young son, Bernardo in her sister's care, hoping that she would be able to brig him with her in the future. Somehow the Home Office had never seen fit to give permission despite numerous petitions. She remarried and had Andi. Andi had been only once to San Andre to visit her brother and her extended family.

Andi loves playing basketball and despite being so small she is a great point guard. Bernardo plays basketball to be with his friends. His incredible height makes him very useful. When finally some good news arrive from the British Home Office, Bernardo's reunion withhis family in the UK is not as easy as it may sound.

Winner of the National Children's Book Prize in the Philippines and the Crystal Kite award 2011- this book is a wonderful read. 

Candy Gourlay's website and Book Dragon's review

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Book 72 - Ophelia by Lisa Klein - Elsinore, Denmark

You know I love adaptations of Shakespeare's plays as novels. Lisa Klein seems to enjoy writing them and she does it so well. 

Ophelia grows up in the confines of the royal castle. Her father is trying to curry favour with the King and when the Queen is looking for a new lady-in-waiting he offers his daughter's services. Ophelia quickly becomes one of the Queen's favourites and she is asked to read aloud her favourite books, some in secret as they are romances. During this time Ophelia sees more of Prince Hamlet during his visits home from his studies in Europe and they fall in love. Guarded by Hamlet's best friend Horatio they conduct their romance in secret. 

In amongst all this romantic secrecy more treacherous works are happening in the palace. The King mysteriously dies and his brother becomes King and marries the Queen, Hamlet's mother. Hamlet returns to Denmark, suspicious and troubled. Ophelia and Hamlet secretly marry. Their relationship cannot be openly acknowledged as there seems to be danger at every turn. Hamlet suspects everyone, including Ophelia's father, who he kills when he finds him in the King's private rooms. Hamlet is sent away and Ophelia is left mourning her father, trying to placate her brother who is bent on revenge and wondering whether her own life is at risk. She is forced to make the bravest decision she has ever made and with Horatio's help she executes her plan - just in time.

I enjoy the way Lisa Klein takes the plays Hamlet and Macbeth and creates a rich world in her novels. These novels are a wonderful way to enhance the teaching of Shakespeare. They add depth and I can see how students would have much fuel for discussion and thought reading both.

Review from Teen Reads   Lisa Klein's own website

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book 71 - Cleopatra Confesses by Carolyn Meyer - Alexandria, Egypt

Earlier this year (January) I read and reviewed Cleopatra Rules - a non fiction book all about this mysterious Queen. I couldn't resist picking up this fictitious account of the life of the Queen from her childhood to just after the death of Julius Caesar and her return to Alexandria. 

Carolyn Meyer has created a wonderful character in Cleopatra. She tells her story in the first person and the reader comes to respect and admire her courage, intelligence and self belief. In a palace of enemies - her older sisters and later the advisors of her younger brother, her husband, she is a solitary figure who learns that knowledge of history and of her own people are her greatest allies. In her loneliness, Cleopatra befriends one of the palace dancers, Charmion, a girl her own age. Their friendship brings Cleopatra much needed advice and comfort as she faces the responsibilities and dangers in her role as Princess and then Queen. 

The book is well researched and at the end has a section "Cleopatra in History." The note from the author explains her interest in Cleopatra and how she went about researching this book. This two page explanation is a brilliant teaching point to show students how research is so important in historical fiction. It also has a bibliography a real plus from this librarian's point of view.

Carolyn Meyer's talks about her book.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Signs and wonders - moving displays

Our new team member Serife is an artist. So when it came to creating a board display outside our library there was only one person who could do the job. Understanding that not only colour and design were important to students age 3 - 18 but 3D and movement would also attract attention Serife used many interesting ideas and materials to make her welcome to our library a real success. The small books which frame the posters are on what we call 'danglers'. to make these laminate the image and then use the strips of laminate not required. Attach the image to the strip and it hangs away from the poster. These danglers move as people walk pass. We use danglers in the PYP non fiction section to show pre-literate children where their favourite subjects are on the shelves - see post in October 2011 'More signs and wonders'. The bookmarks we give away are from American Library Association. Serife created daisies with these and cupcake papers. The invitation to 'fuel your mind' hangs out from the ceiling above. All in all an incredibly effective billboard welcoming our school community into their library. Thanks Serife.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Local Focus - Global Impact Student Librarians at IICS

Our student librarians raised money last year at our school International day for books for a school library in Nepal. This school is for Nepalese children and delivers its curriculum in English language. Their library needed books. They had a wish list on Amazon and as a team our student librarians selected the books and sent them on their way. It took more than four months for the books to arrive. My colleague Samantha visited the school this summer and here is the letter they sent back for our student librarians.

Our student librarians give one or two lunchtimes each week to run our library. They shelve books, run the issues desk and create displays. I often think this is the hardest 'Community and Service'  option students can choose (see blog post Tuesday November 8, 2011). I am so proud of them and I hope some of them choose the hardest option again this year for their Community and Service.