Thursday, December 1, 2016

Tabletop Games in your School Library

I have felt for a long time that tabletop gaming is a valuable activity for tweens and teens to engage in.  I feel like we do not have a lot of time in the curriculum to experiment with gaming, although to a certain extent some teachers do bring gaming into the classroom.  However, I think that the school library is a perfect place to set up a gaming corner for lunch and after school fun.

I'm looking to become a little more involved in the ALA Games and Gaming Round Table (kind of bummed I missed the conference earlier this year).

I do believe that tabletop games provide a positive social experience, they encourage critical thinking, you learn about planning ahead, strategy, bringing in mathematical concepts and depending on the game, being a problem solver.  Above all else, as a librarian, games encourage literacy.  You need to be able to read to play tabletop games.  Many games encourage creativity and imagination.

So, I'll be starting on my journey to acquire some tabletop games for the library.  Listening to some of my favorite tabletop gamers on Tabletop Game Talk and following them on twitter @GameMasterChris @kittenL and @joshisblonde. Oh, and maybe I'll make it to Origins Game Fair again this year ;) They DO have an amazing Educator Hall Pass.  Who can beat $35 for a 5 day conference???

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Loch Ness Punster book review

I don't normally review middle grade books, but I picked this one up because part of it took place in Scotland and was about the Loch Ness Monster (I 💙 Scotland).

If you have upper elementary/middle school students, I recommend this book for your library.




This is book 7 in the 43 Old Cemetery Road series, however, I was able to read it as a stand alone book and it was enjoyable. The story starts in Spence Mansion, which is a 32 ½ room house in Ghastly, Illinois.  Olive Spence built it in 1874 and lived there until she died in 1911.  She still lives there as a ghost.  Seymour Hope was an orphan who was taken in by Olive and Ignatius B. Grumply.  Olive and Ignatius are authors.  Ian Grumply is very old and wants to will his castle in Scotland to Ignatius.  However, he ends up leaving it to Seymour who travels to Scotland to visit his castle.  Macon Deals is a sneaky salesman/developer and he wants to exploit the Loch Ness monster and wants Seymour’s new castle to develop a waterslide.  There is also a $10,000 tortoise who plays a rather large part in this story.


This story will be funny and enjoyable for upper elementary and middle school readers.  There are lots of puns, word play and the story is told through letters, texts, telegrams, phone messages, newspaper articles, pictures, and conversations with a ghost.  It’s rather clever.  There is a lot to look at within the pages.  It has some Scottish history (which is why I picked it up) and the ghost story is not scary at all.  Readers will help Seymour solve the mystery of the tortoise and Ignatius will solve the mystery of why he is so grumpy.  It’s a fast paced read with lots of humor and silliness.  This would be a great series to add to a school library collection.  It would make a good display for global connections (in an IB school library), being a risk-taker, being principled (Seymour realizes lying is not a good idea).  Readers will travel to Scotland.  Learn new vocabulary like neophobe and neophiliac.  I think it will engage both avid and reluctant readers alike.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

#classroomshelfies from the IA!

We had some teachers take up the @FollettLearning challenge for taking #classroomshelfies (pictures of their classroom libraries) We've got representation from Team History, English and Chemistry (and maybe a few more).  While it would be nice to win an extra $200, it's a good opportunity to show off how awesome our teachers are with the diversity of books they have available for their students. Needless to say, our students are surrounded by books everywhere they go in our building!  Here are some of our entries:









Future Ready Librarians




Good site to visit for more info on Future Ready Librarians.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Making IT Happen! Award

So, it's been a busy year in my school library (as you can tell by no new posts to my blog).  I'm going to be working on keeping things updated.  Sometimes it's just been easier to update the IA Community through FaceBook, but I can elaborate on things here.

Two weeks ago was the annual MAME conference in Grand Rapids.  I spent some time following around the President-Elect as she was the Conference Chair for MAME 43.  Next year, that will be my job.  I have a lot to do in the meantime.

This year, my friend and colleague, Kathy Lester (Plymouth-Canton Community Schools) nominated me for the ISTE Making IT Happen award.  It was totally unexpected and quite humbling after I read the description of the award.  The ISTE website states that:
"The Making IT Happen award honors outstanding educators and leaders who demonstrate extraordinary commitment, leadership, courage and persistence in improving digital learning opportunities for students. Since its inception in 1995 more than 500 educators from around the world have received the award.
The spirit of the Making IT Happen award supports our vision of a world in which all learners thrive, achieve and contribute.
Award recipients are educators who:
  • Apply available technology now.
  • Move forward and don't look back.
  • See students as real people.
  • Teach through relationships, inspiring, encouraging and nurturing.
  • Recognize that further change is necessary, but understand that it is a process.
  • Realize that teacher empowerment is the key element to technology integration.
  • Expect success.
  • Motivate through awareness and access to information."
There is quite the list of past award winners.  Many of who I follow professionally and have seen as keynote speakers at various conferences.  That is a lot to live up to!  I agonized over a short speech for a while and went to the awards ceremony with a blank piece of paper.  Fortunately, sometimes pressure helps and I was ready to go when my name was announced.  

I feel lucky to be a part of such a great and supportive community of school librarians.  I hope that since the State Superintendent was there, it brought some attention to how relevant school libraries are to our students today.  The State of Michigan only has about 8% of its schools with a full-time library media specialist.  We are 1 of 5 states where reading scores are actually dropping.  We are 47th in the nation in terms of having fully staffed and open school libraries.  I'm hoping that ESSA and Superintendent Whiston's Top 10 in 10 efforts will reverse the trend in Michigan of eliminating school library media specialist positions and closing school libraries.  
It was an honor to have him speak at our conference and to have his picture taken with all of the award winners.  It was the first time a state superintendent came to a MAME conference. There were some great administrators, teachers and school librarians who were also honored that evening.  


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Illusionarium book review

Jonathan Gouden is an apprentice to his father, who is one of the best doctor/scientists in Fata Morgana.  Jonathan is close to his sister, Hannah, and to his mother.  He is planning on going to university to get his medical degree.  Fata Morgana is located north and above London, where they do not get too many visitors.  Until the day that the King of England shows up begging for a cure to the Venen.  Venen is a mysterious disease killing all the girls and women.  No ones knows where it came from.  It is up to Dr. Gouden to try to find the cure.  The King provides Dr. Gouden with a hallucinogenic drug called fantillium, which may hold the key to the cure.  Jonathan soon discovers that the fantillium opens gateways to parallel worlds.  The reader will find themselves in Nod’ol, which is a dark and scary world, destroyed by fantillium.  Illusionarium is set in a steam driven society filled with airships and Victorian-like gadgets.

I think this book is a good addition to a high school steam-punk collection.  The characters are pretty well developed, the dialogue is good, the setting is intriguing.  Overall, the book is an enjoyable diversion.  There is a romance that crosses worlds and a strong moral conviction that weaves its way throughout the story.  There is nothing objectionable in the content for a high school student.  The fantillium may have harsher repercussions than meth, but it is fictional.

This book would be a good choice for pleasure reading, a in person or online book club and would garner interest if put on display for students before a school break.  It is a quick read.  The cover will probably appeal more to girls, but the main character is a boy.  The secondary character, Lockwood, would also be very popular with boys.  There is fighting and action, mixed in with the mystery and romance.  Personally, I enjoyed it and will be recommending it to my students.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Night School: Legacy

Night School: Legacy is the second book in this series.  I had a read the first book a couple of times and I could not wait for the second book to come out.  Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down! I love the setting of the school, the descriptions of the buildings and grounds, the character development and the mystery surrounding the school and Allie. I think the good dialogue and fast paced action really keep the reader hooked. Cimmeria Academy is a great setting for danger, secrets and romance. The relationship between Allie, Carter and Sylvian is still complicated and mysterious. The reader will struggle with choosing who they like better - just like Allie does.

Allie is on the run from her enemies.  She is still not completely sure who her enemies are, but she knows she has to be careful about who she trusts.  Her mysterious grandmother becomes a little more significant in this book.  Allie has to come back to Cimmeria early because she is in danger.  I like the development of the relationship between Allie and Zoe.  Readers will wonder about the relationship between Isabelle and Allie.  

Readers will enjoy reading about what it might be like to attend a boarding school in England (albeit still fictional). This book would be a great addition to any high school library. I liked the book so much that I stayed up really late reading it and then after I finished it, I reread some parts. I am definitely looking forward to the next book! I loved watching the short films that the author created to complement her series.