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.