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?

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!

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?

Favorite YA Reads of 2010

Wendy Stephens, author of Wendy on the Web, recently wrote a post detailing her favorite reads of 2010 prompting me to consider the YA novels I had read this year.  Which are ones I have or will recommend over and over to my students?

Fantasy

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

This is the first installment of the Infernal Devices series that is the prequel to the Mortal Instruments series, my favorite YA fantasy series of this century.  Cassandra Clare has captured the essence of the Mortal Instruments world with this novel; I felt as if I had fallen right back into this delicious world of Downworlders and Shadowhunters – even though the novel involves different characters and is set 100 years ago in England.

Clare does not disappoint in this story of sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray who has traveled to London to be reunited with her brother who has mysteriously disappeared.  She is captured by the Dark Sisters who awaken and help her perfect her power of shapeshifting.  Once she escapes from their clutches, she takes refuge at the Shadowhunters’ London Institute and continues to search for her brother.

Science Fiction

Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith

Another first in a series, Lockdown introduces us to Alex Sawyer who has been framed for the murder of his best friend and sentenced to life in the legendary Furnace Penitentiary. Furnace is a prison like no other, buried a mile underground and ruled by inhuman creatures who take pleasure in randomly kidnapping inmates from their cells.  The inmates are dragged, kicking and screaming, from their cells and undergo horrific, though unknown, experiments which transform them into hideous beasts.

No one has successfully escaped from Furnace, but the thought of spending the remainder of his life there propels Alex to team up with two other inmates to attempt the impossible.  Smith succeeds in keeping the reader mesmerized and anxious to  discover what will happen to Alex.

Realistic Fiction

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Finally, a stand-alone novel!  Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is laying down in the backseat of her stepmother’s Escalade when Griffin Sawyer, another teenager, decides to steal the car.  His father runs a chop-shop and Griffin is hoping to prove he can be an asset to his dad.

Griffin doesn’t realize Cheyenne is in the back seat until it is too late and now he must decide what to do with her.  Cheyenne, who is blind, tries to convince Griffin to let her go because she can’t identify him. When his father discovers that Cheyenne is from a wealthy family, Roy decides to ask for a ransom.

A fast read, the last third of the novel is a suspense-filled ride that you can’t put down.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Seventeen-year-old Mia loves her life.  She is close to her parents and younger brother, she is a talented cellist hoping for a scholarship to Juillard, and her boyfriend Adam “gets” her.  But in the proverbial blink-of-an-eye, everything changes.  Mia’s family is involved in a fatal car crash, with Mia being the sole survivor.  As she lingers in a coma, Mia is completely aware of what has happened and can’t imagine life without her family.  Will she find the will to fight for life without them? This poignant story takes you on Mia’s mental journey to a decision.

What titles have you recently read that you are recommending to your students?

Gearing Up for the New Year: Preplanning

Pencils and Moleskines 04 by Paul Worthington.

In June, I posted our library’s annual report.  In it, I included four goals for the 2010-2011 school year:

  • Increase collaboration with classroom teachers.
  • Continue to improve both the content and currency of our collection.
  • Increase participation in READissance.
  • Master Destiny software and complete inventory.

Our first day for the 2010-2011 school year will be August 9th.  I plan to hit the ground running on that day and thought I would do as my friend Heather Loy did earlier this week – share some of my plans with you.

Increase Collaboration with Classroom Teachers

After reviewing our 2009 HSAP scores, I shared my concerns about the low scores on the research portion of the ELA test with colleagues.  I had been following Buffy Hamilton’s effort with the Media 21 project and was impressed with the scope and sequence of the program.  I knew that I needed to take a proactive approach to collaborate with an English II teacher on research but would not be able to accomplish anything as comprehensive as Buffy’s project just starting out.

I scheduled a meeting with my principal after the 2009-2010 school year ended and shared my proposal with him. After he had time to review it, he gave it two thunbs up.  Once teachers’ schedules had been finalized for the upcoming year, I approached an English II teacher with my proposal and she enthusiastically agreed to work with me.

We have our work cut out for us as we plan and implement our research unit, but we have been exchanging ideas and look forward to sitting down for a more formal planning session.  We agree that teaching students how to conduct research is vital.  Plans now include a pretest using the TRAILS 9th grade standards and incorporating a research model such as the Big6.

I’ll share more as the plans come together and we begin to pilot the program.

Continue to Improve Both the Content and Currency of Our Collection

As we prepared to move into our new facilities, we aggressively weeded our collection based on age and condition.  This year we will begin to use a five year plan to systematically analyze and improve our collection. (Dewey Decimal classifications are given below.  All items in the collection identified with these classifications will be inventoried in the designated year.)

2010-2011: 500-799 and equipment

2011-2012: 900’s

2012-2013: 000-499 and Professional Library

2013-2014: 800’s and Biography

2014-2015: Fiction and Story Collection

Increase Participation in READissance

When our READissance founder, Sally Hursey, moved to the Boiling Springs Ninth Grade Campus, our READissance planning committee disbanded.  I have already asked one teacher to serve on the committee this year and need to recruit at least one other teacher and a couple of students to review the program and make needed adjustments.

We will survey the faculty and students and use the data to guide us as we begin to make changes.  I don’t want to be making what Buffy Hamilton referred to in her post “Milkshake Mistakes.”

We are a High Schools That Work (HSTW) school and, in an attempt to address their standard of having students read 25 books a year, we have raised the  number of books we require students to read in the READissance program.  Comparing participation data before and after the adjustments uncovers the negative effect of our changes. (We have increased the number of books required by two for two years, raising the number from 7 to 11 required books per semester.) By our current requirements, if a student reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (759 pages), he/she will get credit for reading one book.  However, HSTW defines “books” as a set number of pages.  If HSTW considers 200 pages the equivalent of a “book,” then the same  Harry Potter book would qualify as three (nearly four) books by that standard.  How do we address this to encourage, rather than discourage, participation?

Several other aspects of the program need to be reconsidered as we seek to increase both student and teacher participation in the program.

Master Destiny Software and Complete Inventory

Of the four goals, this one will take top priority as the year begins, but it should be accomplished quickly, allowing us to focus on our other goals as well as the day-to-day administration of our library program.

Destiny will be used for the first time this school year as our records were converted at the end of last school year.  The district has scheduled a two hour webinar and a full day of training to prepare us to begin using the program.  Inventory will need to be completed to activate the program so we had to wait until the beginning of the new school year to inventory our collection.

Other Plans

1) Reading promotion – using technology to promote books

2) Revamp our library website

3) Continue to work on branding our library – we will be known as “The MC”

4) Create a community of educators who want to explore using Web 2.0 tools in instruction

And, of course, there will be more.  I have never been one who is happy to sit on the sidelines.

What are you planning this year to improve your services?

Photo Attribution:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulworthington/82648702/