#HoldShelf – Late to the Party

Sigh…..seems I have good intentions, but my follow through is not up to par.  I saw the invitation to share a picture of our library’s hold shelf and thought, “Wow!  What a fantabulous idea!”  Our hold shelf is not pretty – and books don’t sit on it for long, so I was waiting for it to fill up a bit before I took a photo.

When a book that has been put on hold comes home to us, we complete a Hold Notice to send to the main office.  At the end of the morning’s and afternoon’s announcements, students with items in the front office are called to pick them up.  So, often within a couple of hours of sending the notice to the office, an excited student rushes into the library to pick up his/her book.  (Doesn’t it just make your heart melt when a student comes in to check out a book he has been dying to read? I feel like I have just sold the winning Lotto ticket cause I know the treasure that’s within the covers of that book.)

Anyhoo, we never had more than two books on our hold shelf at any one time in the last couple of weeks so I decided to take Cathy Nelson‘s idea and use a screenshot of the holds report in Destiny to share our requested titles.

Yep, The Hunger Games  is there, just as you would expect with the media frenzy surrounding the movie’s release.  But I’m pleased to see that Thirteen Reasons Why is there (twice); Ms. Gray’s classes completed their Literature Circles a couple of weeks ago and those who had read that novel have talked it up to their friends!  (Love it when they do that!  Just blesses my heart.)  Unwind and Shattering Glass were also titles in those Literature Circles.

What books are your students requesting now?

SCASL Conference Reflections: Day Three

The third day of conference is a half day.  There are three morning sessions and the grand finale of our conference is always the Author Celebration Luncheon.

“Meet the Author”  Chris Crutcher

I have long been a fan of Chris Crutcher and looked forward to his session.   His characters ring true with compelling, heartbreaking stories.  Chris shared some of his life experiences that have inspired his fictional characters and situations.  He had us alternately laughing and crying, but always wanting to read (or reread) the stories inspired by the children who had touched his heart.

“Unwritten Research Paper:  Projects for Busy Teachers and Bored Students”  Cathy Nelson

Cathy Nelson lives and breathes instructional technology!  Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, she is always in search of ways to enrich her students’ educational experiences – often with technology.

One of her pet peeves is the “KMN” PowerPoint presentation.  We have all suffered through them:  slides with too much text that the presenter just reads to his/her audience.  You know, those presentations where you think “Kill Me Now!” (KMN) rather than see another slide with several bullet points.

Her session offered suggestions on improving those PowerPoint presentations – information that MUST be shared with our teachers and students.  Then she shared her recent collaborative experiences where students were allowed to choose a means to share what they learned through their research (no three page papers here).

Cathy has shared both her PowerPoint on improving PowerPoints (!) and her ideas for the unwritten research paper on her wiki.

Side note:  This is NOT how Cathy appeared when she was presenting at the 2012 SCASL Conference.  But it is a favorite picture of mine that captures Cathy’s spontaneity and willingness to try new experiences.

“eEk and eCstacy:  Incorporating eReaders and eBooks into Your Curriculum”  Jen Chesney

This was the second session I attended focusing on eReaders.  Jen Chesney, media specialist at Powdersville High School, shared her experiences with eBooks and eReaders  as she opened a new library last year.

Her nonfiction eBooks haven’t been as successful as she would like.  Students want instant access;  having to visit different sites to reach the library’s Infobase and Marshall Cavendish eBooks is off-putting for them.  Publishers are still exploring the new frontier of eBooks.  Until there is a “one size fits all” solution,  nonfiction eBooks are not going to be our students’ first choice for information.

Jen chose to go with Nooks for her fiction eBook collection.  She purchased enough Nooks to take advantage of the Barnes and Noble management program and devised a way to keep track of titles on each device.  Because students check out the devices rather than the books, she has no way of tracking which titles are being read on each device other than to ask students when they return the Nook.

The Nooks have been extremely popular.  One of the “eCstasies” that Jen has discovered:  no more having to wait days or weeks after publication of the newest book in a series!  If you purchase these on eReaders, the books will be there the day they are released.

Although earlier in the school year I had decided to wait a bit longer until the dust settled (and prices on devices are bound to drop), Jen’s success has me wondering whether I should purchase a few Nooks and see how successful they would be in my library program.

Final Thoughts

In this and my past two posts, I have attempted to share some of what I learned at the 2012 SCASL Conference.  Our keynote speakers were topnotch this year and the talent of my fellow South Carolina school librarians never ceases to amaze me.

I am never able to attend all of the sessions I would like to; two or three will be going on simultaneously and I must make a choice.  However, thanks to the generosity of this year’s presenters, I can at least get a taste for sessions I was unable to experience in person.  Their presentations/handouts/materials can be found on the Conference page of scasl.net.

 

Purchaser on the Prowl

Tracking Book Reviews

Your library may subscribe to several reviewing journals, but why limit yourself to print publications to discover new books that would fly off your shelves?

As you can see from the image, I have a folder in my Google Reader devoted to YA Lit.  I have to admit that the small number (39) of unread posts is unusual; the holiday break has given me time to go through my reader.

I often leave this folder unread for days.  Do I not like YA lit?  Please.  It composes approximately 90% of all of my fiction reading.  So why am I not anxious to discover the jewels (some not so shiny) that these blogs hold?

Fear.

Fear?  Yes. Fear of reading about a great new book only to forget its title.  If I read the post, it disappears from my reader.  Yes, I can mark it as “unread” and “star” it, but there have been times when I have seen 170 posts in that folder and just deleted them all. (Sorry to those of you whose blogs I subscribe to – it is no reflection of the quality of your posts! No, it is my way of dealing with information overload.)

I have sometimes attempted to make notes of these titles, but these are often forgotten or misplaced.  You see, not only do I read these blog posts at home, but I sometimes read them during my lunch break at work, or while waiting in line at the grocery store.  And, despite what others will tell you, I am not organized.

I need a way to make note of the titles no matter where it is that I am reading reviews.  What is always handy?  Since I am online while reading them, why not use Google Docs to keep track of those I-do-not-want-to-forget titles?  Because this week is offering me the luxury of time, I decided to create a spreadsheet and begin to fill it with some of those titles.

Bookstore Finds

This is not the only mobile solution I have used to record new titles.  Buffy Hamilton first alerted me to the power of Evernote for collection development.  I haunt the local Barnes and Noble (they know me by first name) and hightail it straight for the Teen section when I arrive.  With iPhone in hand, I scour the new books.  When I find one that seems promising, I use the Snapshot feature in Evernote to take a photo of the book cover and place it in my Collection Development notebook right in Evernote.

Follett Library Resources recently released a Titlewave app that is awesome!  Now, when I find promising titles, I can search for them in Titlewave and read reviews right on my iPhone.  I can even add them to a book order on the spot.

What mobile means have you discovered for recording possible book purchases?

Teen Read Week 2011

Teen Read Week is historically observed the third week of October, but that week is also the time for our fall state testing.  The library is used for testing, eliminating the opportunity for us to sponsor events that week.  No problem!  Those of us in education understand the importance of flexibility.

This year, our Teen Read Week wasn’t celebrated until the week of Oct.31st – Nov. 4th. The theme of Picture It @your library offered many possibilities and we decided to experiment with all new (to us) ideas and activities.

Bookmark Yourself

To begin the week, we borrowed Cathy Nelson‘s “Bookmark Yourself” idea allowing students to personalize bookmarks (with or without their photos – it’s amazing the number of students who don’t want their picture taken).  The activity was popular and is one we will use again.

Pictionary with Book Titles

One morning before school, we played Pictionary with book titles.  Now, I can’t draw worth a lick, but I have enjoyed playing Pictionary before and hoped our students would, too.  Armed with a whiteboard stand, some Expo markers and an eraser, and 15 book titles written on folded slips of paper, I enticed students (some might say I pounced on them) as soon as they began entering the library at 7:30.  Students wander into and out of the library for the 35 minutes we are open before school and at one point we had fifteen students playing Pictionary.  They loved it! Again, this is an activity we will repeat.

Name that Book Contest and Luncheon

Our piece de resistance was the Name that Book Contest and Luncheon held on Friday. (I first wrote about the activity here but did alter my original plans to only use 2012 SCYABA nominees.)  Again, I bow to Cathy Nelson who got my mental wheels (they are quite rusty) moving when she shared her (brilliant! fantabulous!) Books 2 Pics idea with me this summer.  And I must thank my intern, Sheila Roberts, and my co-librarian, Jay Campbell, for their hard work.  Each created slides that rocked! for five books.

Because our school population has grown considerably but our cafeteria has not, we now have four twenty-five minute lunch periods.  Students signed up to participate and by Thursday afternoon, all slots were filled. (Valuable lesson learned last year during Teen Read Week – line up alternates for the game.)

Students quickly reported to the library when their lunch period began and helped themselves to pizza, soda, and cookies.  While they ate, I explained the rules of Name that Book.  The bidding war began when the first book’s clue was provided.  Only one of the four lunch groups completed the game by identifying (or trying to identify) all fifteen books.  All groups had a blast and said they’d love to play the game again.

Teen Read Week 2011 has come and gone, but the memories created will linger for quite some time.  The thrill of implementing new activities and have them succeed is deeply satisfying.  I love teens and their passion and enthusiasm!

Can YOU Name that Book?  The slide above represents one of the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominees for 2012.  Any idea which one?

Starting the Year Running: Collaborating on Literature Circles

During the summer, I visit my school library once a week to water plants.  One June day as I strolled through the library,  I noticed how many “sets” of books were sitting on the YABA and fiction shelves.

Each year I order multiple copies of the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award (SCYABA) nominees and often recommend them (as well as non-nominee titles) to our book club officers for consideration.

Once the book club officers and sponsors select a title for discussion, I order more copies to ensure all book club members will have the opportunity to read it before our meeting.  These two factors (book club-selected title and SCYABA nominee) mean we have five or more copies of certain titles.

Why not?

Several discussions over the last year with my book club co-sponsor have focused on the lack of enough class sets of YA titles for her English II classes to read and discuss.

Light bulb moment:  why not examine the titles with multiple copies in the library to determine if they contained common themes?  When I did, I realized that many were either based on abuse or dystopia.  Why not suggest using these titles in classroom literature circles?

I emailed Barbara, my book club co-sponsor, with the idea and she loved it.

So the year’s first collaborative effort was born.

Literature Circles

I admit that in order to ensure we could offer each of her two classes six titles from which to choose, I had to stretch each theme just a bit.  Listed below are the titles we are using.

Abuse:  The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Things Change by Patrick Jones, Hate List by Jennifer Brown, and Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

Dystopia: Unwind by Neal Shusterman, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Epitaph Road by David Patneaude, and Epic by Conor Kostick

Planning

On the first day of the collaboration, I would visit the class and booktalk each of the titles being offered as a selection for them.  Students would complete the Title Choice Sheet I provided and Barbara and I would each take one class’s set of Title Choice Sheets and record the students’ first, second, and third choices.  I would use those sheets as I created each class’s literature circles.

After I left the classroom on the first day, Barbara would explain literature circles to the students and assign “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst. This piece would be the basis for lit circle practice.

On the second day, students would practice two things:

  1. preparing for a lit circle discussion using one of the roles (Discussion Director, Illustrator, Summarizer, Fortune Teller, or Literary Luminary)
  2. participating in a lit circle

Barbara would assign a role to each row in her class.  The rows would circle up and, using the role handout, decide what their role would bring to a lit circle discussion. Barbara and I would listen to each group as they planned.  If we felt it was needed, we would provide direction.

After twenty minutes, Barbara would disband the role groups and have them regroup in lit circles composed of students representing the five roles for which they had just prepared. Barbara and I would would visit each lit circle and provide guidance as needed.

On the third day, I would announce the literature circles and distribute the books I had already checked out to each student.  When I left class, Barbara would again discuss the purpose and workings of a literature circle and allow each lit circle to meet to plan how they would progress (the roles each would assume and the pages that would be read for each of the circle’s five meetings).

Ready, Set, Go!

We put our plan into motion on Aug. 16th (the first week of the 2011-2012 school year).  The students were excited about having a choice in their first class read and did exceptionally well on the second day as they took part in the small group discussions. I looked forward to checking in on their progress and asking for their feedback on this venture.

Overwhelming Success!

Students made class presentations on Friday, Sept. 2nd.  Each group sat in front of the class and shared a summary of their book, real life lessons they had gleaned from it, and then explained the posters that each individual had made on their book.  (The requirements for the poster included three symbols, five quotations, and three things that represented a character.)

I was able to join both classes on Friday and listen to several presentations.  Impressive!  But I didn’t have to wait until that day to know that our lit circles were being successful:  just a week after the students received their book, several boys came to the library to check out the sequel to their novel.  They had finished well in advance of what we had planned and wanted to know what happened next in the story.

Flexibility

Mrs. DeLac is the co-sponsor of our book club and had shared with her classes the novels we would be reading for our September meeting.  One young lady read Angry Management by Chris Crutcher and asked if she could present that novel to the class rather than create a poster on her lit circle novel.  She still assisted her lit circle group with their presentation, but she was so blown away by Crutcher’s book that she wanted to share it with others.  Mrs. DeLac’s flexibility in allowing this student to share another book demonstrated her desire to encourage her students to read for pleasure and talk with others about what they read.

Passion, enthusiasm, and the desire to read for pleasure. A winning combination for our first attempt with Literature Circles!

Image used through a Creative Commons License:

“Reading Time”

I Can Name that Book in One Pic!

Can you name that book in 5 pics?

A bit earlier this summer, my good friend Cathy Nelson shared her thoughts with me as she began planning for this fall’s Teen Read Week (sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association). She has several great ideas (see her post here), but the one that immediately captured my attention was her Books2Pics slides.  For each book, she created a slide containing pictures of several of its key elements. Her plan is to have one displayed each day during Teen Read Week and challenge the students to identify the book.

Because the idea looked just plain fun to me, when I finished reading one of the 2012 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award (SCYABA) nominees, I created a Books2Pics slide and shared it with Cathy and another good friend (and the third of the original Three Media Musketeers) Heather Loy, challenging them to “Name that Book.”

After I had created three of these slides (I’m telling you, it’s addictive!), I finally had that light bulb moment.  All of the YA books I am currently reading are from the 2012 SCYABA nominee list (gotta be familiar with those books!).  Why not sponsor a “Name that Book” contest during Teen Read Week similar to our YA Lit Jeopardy contest last year?

Name that Tune

For those of you not old enough to remember the “Name that Tune” game show, during the Bid a Note portion of the show two contestants vied for prizes by identifying songs from just a few notes.  A bidding “war” took place before one contestant had to name the song.  Contestant One would say, “I can name that tune in 5 notes” and Contestant Two would either counter by saying, “I can name that tune in 3 notes” or “Name that tune,” placing Contestant One in the hot seat to name the song from just the number of notes he/she had bid.

Each of the book slides I have created contains five photographs of key elements in the book.  I have used PowerPoint’s Customize Animation feature so that only one photograph will appear on the slide each time the mouse is clicked.  Two students, or teams of students, will challenge each other to “Name that Book” in 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 photograph(s).  Since all books in the game come from the 2012 SCYABA nominees, there will be no need to give individual hints before each new slide.

“Picture It @ Your Library” is this year’s theme for Teen Read Week making this contest a perfect fit.  I can only hope that the students will have as much fun playing “Name that Book” as I have had creating it!

Maximum Marketing

While researching for my “Ramp up Reading with Technology” sessions at the 2011 Upstate Technology Conference (Greenville, South Carolina), I stumbled across two free iPhone apps for YA lit:  the Maximum Ride Fang and the Maximum Ride Angel apps.

I excitedly installed the Fang app on my phone (I am such a geek!), considering the marketing possibilities that mobile devices offer for publishing companies and authors.  With the Fang app, you can quiz yourself:  “Who’s Your Flock Mate?” and take a photo of yourself with Max and Fang.  (Tried the photo with Fang – not very good quality unfortunately.)

With the Angel app, you can quiz yourself:  “How Max Are You?” and read the first 21 chapters of the book.  You also get a sneak preview of the audiobook.

With the rise in popularity of mobile devices, I’m surprised that publishers haven’t put more focus into developing free apps for YA series.  Seems this would be a promising playground for book promotion.    

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