#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?

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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!

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“Reading Time”

Video: South Carolina Young Adult Book Award Nominees 2011-2012

South Carolina YABA 2011-2012 Video

The nominees for the South Carolina Young Adult Book Award for the 2011-2012 school year were announced earlier this month.  To encourage interest in the books, I promote them in a variety of ways:

  • SCASL Book Award Committee Brochure (contains book cover images and blurbs for each book)
  • SCYABA bookmarks (Follett Library Resources generously provides one free set of 50 for each SCASL Conference attendee)
  • bulletin boards
  • book displays
  • booktalks
  • book trailers
  • Animoto video

For the past two years, I have created an Animoto video of the nominees and have shared it here.  (Animoto allows you to upload the video to YouTube, but because YouTube is blocked in most (if not all) of SC schools, I usually share the Animoto link.)

What other ways have you promoted your state award list nominees?

Organizing Booktalks

Reader’s Advisory can take many forms, but my favorite is booktalking.  The beginning of a new semester is the perfect opportunity to reach out to teachers and offer to do booktalks for their classes.

Last week, I gave booktalks for twelve classes.  Each booktalking session averaged three to seven books which can become a management nightmare.  I use the following method to organize booktalks so that if teachers wish for me to booktalk more than once to their classes, I can be assured I am not repeating myself.

Organizing Booktalks

1. First, I created a spreadsheet of the books from which to choose (and keep adding to it).

The spreadsheet includes the author, title, and up to three genres.

2. Next, I gathered the booktalks I have created (or found) on each title.  These are all titles I have read; one of the primary rules I learned in my YA Lit course was to only booktalk books you have read.  Creating booktalks is often time consuming, so when I don’t have the time, I use Nancy Keane’s Booktalks — Quick and Simple.  I file these alphabetically by title.

3. Finally, I created a simple booktalk chart template that I use for each teacher.

I keep all of this information in my Booktalk Notebook that I keep for reference at the Circulation Desk.

Giving the Booktalks

Once a teacher requests a booktalking session, I confer with him/her to determine a few factors I need to consider as I plan:

1.  length of time teacher wants to stay

2.  class composition (equal numbers of males and females?)

3.  student interests (At the beginning of the semester, teachers often can’t provide a great deal of information, but if they have done interest surveys they might be able to share if any students are in band, chorus, orchestra, student council, or participate in any sports.)

Then I pull together from three to seven books based on teacher information.  I use the template to record the titles I plan to do for each class. If this changes (sometimes I can tell from a class’s attitude as they enter the library that I need to change a title or two), I note the changes after the booktalks.

I set up a display of the books I plan to booktalk in front of the Promethean board, and as students enter and are settling in at the tables, I play an Animoto video I created on the current year’s South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominees. Brochures on each table provide more information about each of these titles. I end the booktalks with a book trailer and tell the students that they are free to check out the titles I used on the table.  It is always SO rewarding when students run to get a copy of the books on the table!

Analyzing the Booktalking Session’s Effectiveness

Often I can tell if a title is going to get checked out as I am doing the booktalk.  High school students don’t fake interest in books; their body language speaks volumes.  And, bless their hearts, some students are not ashamed to say, “I’m getting THAT book.”

Other ways I use student feedback to help me improve my booktalks:

  • A quick look over at the table a bit later as students are checking out books lets me know if a title (or titles) didn’t get checked out.  I make a note of this on the template.
  • If a title did not get checked out, I discuss the booktalk and title with my service learners and the other media specialist to see if I can pinpoint the reason for lack of interest.  If possible, I revise the booktalk before giving it again the next block.  Sometimes this works, sometimes not.
  • If students ask me if I have more copies of one of the titles I booktalked, I put the title on hold for them and make a note of it on booktalk template.

I would love to read about your booktalking methods and sessions.  How do you organize your booktalks and what techniques have you found to be successful?


 

2010 Edgar Award Winners Announced

Mysteries have long been my favorite genre. Give me a good whodunnit and I’m happier than an allergist in spring time.

The Mystery Writers of America met on April 30 to announce the 2010 Edgar Award Winners.

Young Adult Nominees

The nominees for this year’s Best Young Adult Award were:

Abrahams, Peter Reality Check

Cooney, Caroline B.  If the Witness Lied

Ford, John C. The Morgue and Me

Low, Dene Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone

Mitchell, Saundra Shadowed Summer

And the winner is….Reality Check.

Juvenile Nominees

The nominees for this year’s Best Juvenile Award were:

Barnett, Mac The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

Beil, Michael The Red Blazer Girls: The Ring of Rocamadour

Hahn, Mary Dowling Closed for the Season

Reynolds, Aaron Creepy, Crawly Crime

Springer, Nancy The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline

And the winner is…..Closed for the Season.

We only have one of the young adult titles (If the Witness Lied) in our school library so I’ll be checking the public library for the other nominees this summer.

Speaking of Mysteries

The South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominees for 2011 include Something Wicked by Alan Gratz.  Seems it is the second title in the Horatio Wilkes mystery series.  I just recently read Something Rotten, the first title in the series, and loved it.  English teachers who are looking for modern day novels to pair with Hamlet need to give this one a spin.

Now I’m reading Something Wicked, a modern day version of Macbeth.

What good mysteries have you read lately?

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/oddsock/3623474374