The school year is beginning to wind down, so I'll be posting less and less here at Our Lively Library until the beginning of the school year in August, I hope to keep it up a little bit as I learn new things and start on a few different projects for the beginning of the 2016/2017 school year.
So as I wrote my end of the year report, I began to compile my list of goals I had for the next school year. Some of them are concrete goals that I want to accomplish. For example, I would like to take the exams to become a Level 2 Google certified educator in order to work myself towards applying for the Google Certified Innovator program.
However, there are a few bigger projects that have not quite taken shape yet fully in my brain that I'm jazzed about for next year. Here are a few of the big ideas I am going to try to accomplish.
Recently, our school has received some bad press in the media for a few unfortunate incidents, and, of course, the media has jumped all over it, dragging our good name in the mud. I met earlier this year with one of our assistant superintendents after he returned from CUE for Administrators. He was inspired by schools that put out podcasts of the great things happening at their school, and he inquired if I might be interested in creating one for next year. He felt with my tech and theatre background, it might be the perfect fit for me. The idea would be just to start with the great things happening here at Pondo, and eventually the format could go to a wider audience with all four of our high schools.
I'm setting a modest goal for myself right now of doing one podcast a quarter highlighting a few different students in each podcast. I'm already familiar with using Audacity for audio editing, and my theatre background has given me some good resources for free music and how to put something like this together.
I'm not sure what to call it yet, but I'm thinking perhaps something like The Bruin Pride Podcast. Pondo Pride Podcast? Still twirling ideas in my head. You can be sure to hear my first episode here on my blog!
I'm a huge puzzle nerd with my logic book always in tow, and going to a room escape is worth every penny. I've been to a few different ones, and I remember after completing my first one I thought that it was the perfect idea for the library. It encourages creative thinking, teamwork, critical thinking, and not to mention it's a ton of fun!
I thought it would be the perfect kind of event to bring staff together and even run during Open House. My initial thoughts are to run it at a time where I just use it as a staff development activity during a collaboration time. They would be the perfect group to test it out on and then open it up to a wider audience. Perhaps a few students groups after school?
While traditional room escapes take one hour, mine would be more of a "mini-version" at only 20 minutes or so.
I believe the best place would be in our back work room/break room area, but there's a bit of friction between myself and my library tech about this. She's pretty protective of the area, but I think I can convince her that I will take care of the space. She does trust me and my ideas, so I think we can work together on it.
Our back room has a counter, a long table, and shelves above the counter. I would store all of the items on the shelves for a short time and create a kind of dining room area. Find some kind of plot to go around this theme. Like I said, the idea is all in flux, and I have found some amazing resources on Pinterest.
Monthly Event: Shakespeare
So many exciting ideas for the 16/17 school year, but for right now, I'm going to wind down the year, relax a bit with my soon-to-be one year old daughter, spend some quality time home with her over the summer, and recharge for what I hope will be a GREAT school year!
Yeah, most people put out their top books at the end of the calendar year, but we all know that's not how a teacher works! We do everything in terms of the school year, and we are now reaching the end of it here with 6 more "get-ups" before that glorious first day of summer break when I don't have to set my alarm for 5:15 AM! (Don't worry. I have a build in alarm of an 11 month old to get me up instead!)
This school year, I read 20 books total, which is something I'm pretty proud of considering I was on maternity leave from August to the end of October and just finished my first year as a working mother! I had actually set a goal to read 20 books in total for 2016, so I'm on a good track!
I made a few challenges to myself this year as I combed through the shelves of my library wondering what I should read next. One of those challenges was to read more fantasy books. It is no secret that I am not a fantasy fan. Especially not a YA fantasy fan. Every time a student would approach me and wanted a fantasy book, I found I could not wholeheartedly recommend a good book to them. Therefore, I set out on a quest to read more fantasy. To be able to put a book into a student's hands that I actually enjoyed in the fantasy genre.
And part of this lead me to at least one of my top books of this year! So without further ado, here are my top three books of this school year. . . . .
#3: An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
My two cents:
The writing in this book was absolutely fabulous! It's action packed and will keep readers turning the page. I loved her world building as well. I've read a lot of YA books, and this world was unique and interesting. I've been able to hand this book over to quite a few students, and they all have read it in a weekend, coming back begging for the next book. The next is the series, A Torch Against the Night, will be released on August 30th. Just in time for back to school! We joke all the time about how we have "victims" of this book, as students just seem to be falling all over themselves after reading it! I'm proud to push it as a fantasy book I thoroughly enjoyed.
The book does have a book trailer, which you can watch below, but it's only 30 seconds long and not the strongest book trailer int he world. Take it or leave it, but I don't use it to promote the book. This book does take some promoting through book talks though as it is a bit on the longer side. The word of mouth from the students though has been awesome about it. Students are definitely handing it over to their friends to read after finishing it.
#2: Salt to the Sea
by Ruta Sepetys
My Two Cents:
After I read this book, I believe my review was "I haven't read a YA book that was this good in a long while." Ruta Sepetys' mark in YA literature is to take moments in history that not very many people know about and to create historical fiction for young adults about those moments. She has strong family connections to Lithuania during WWII, and her first novel, Between Shades of Grey, has a similar feel as it also takes place during WWII. Like her first novel, I poured myself into Salt to the Sea, reading it in under a week. Each point of view was unique and interesting. I especially enjoyed the point of view of Alfred, the young German soldier. It was a different take on your typical "Nazi officer," and I found it, in a strange way, refreshing.
This book does take some promotion as well. I have always found historical fiction to be a hard sell to teenagers, but with some promotion, I have found students checking it out frequently. The book trailer also does it justice. I have used it to promote the book, and I feel it is well done, short and sweet, and gives a good feel for what the book is like without being hokey at all. (Sometimes those book trailers have THE WORST actors in them! Not this one.)
by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
My two cents:
Wow. Just wow. This book was absolutely incredible. It might be on my top 5 YA books of all time. It is action packed and will draw you in from beginning to end. As I was a little over halfway through with this book, I locked myself in the back room of the library and said, "No one bother me while I finish this book!!" There were at points where I was super creeped out as well by the story line, not wanting to walk back downstairs to turn off the lights. The most amazing part of this book is how it is told. Take a look at a few pictures from inside the book below.
It is told in multiple formats from e-mails to IMs to audio transcripts to word clouds to diagrams. . . . .the list goes on and on. Lots of YA books out there use this kind of format or multiple "media" forms to tell the story, but none do it as well as Illuminae. No other YA books have as strong of a story behind it. It may seem kind of "gimmicky" at first, but the strong story validates the form.
This book does take some book talking as well because it looks very lengthy. At 599 pages, it's not going to immediately fly off the shelf, but there's a lot of white space in this book because of the format. Lots of pages you don't have to spend a ton of time on if you don't want to.
It's an absolute roller coaster of a ride, and I'm excited to promote it. Random House did a lot of promotion for this book, including creating four separate book trailers, which I have included below. My favorite has been the AIDEN trailer. The Kady trailer and the "Emergency" trailer are fine as well. My least favorite is the Ezra trailer. I think it has a bit of that "hokey: acting that doesn't serve the book well. Take it or leave it.
Those are my top books of this year! Some honorable mentions go to the following YA (and contemporary fiction) books as well that I read this school year:
Where'd You Go Bernadette by Marie Semple
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
The Rose Society by Marie Lu
Happy summer reading everyone!
The other day I was approached by our AP Literature teacher about doing an end of the year book talk to her classes of some "fun books" for the kids to read. Her idea was that she didn't want to kill their love of reading by the end of the year, and she wanted to have them remember that reading is fun! Therefore, she was wanting them to pick a book they could blast through in a week. I was absolutely up for this, but it got me thinking about a bigger idea.
How could I promote summer reading to students?
How could I encourage students to keep a constant "TBR" (to be read) list in their head?
I started planning and pushed out an "End of the Year Book Talk" to English teachers. The idea was not necessarily to have students grab a book for SSR or even to check out a book from the library. The idea was to give them some resources and get them thinking about what they will read over the summer.
Here's what I ended up coming up with. Below is a handout I made for the students. It was made in Google Slides to eventually be folded in half like a book.
As you can see in slide one, the back of this "book" has a place for students to make their summer reading list. On slide two, I list a few different resources and ideas for the students to keep reading.
One of my favorite resources is the website audiobooksyn.com. This website offers FREE audiobooks as a way to encourage them to keep reading. The audiobooks and theirs to keep forever. The titles change each week, so you have to catch it at the right time. Titles change every Thursday. Even if you don't want to read it right then and there, how awesome is it that you can just download it to read later! They always pair a YA book with a classic or nonfiction. There are many fantastic titles on there, and I listed a few good ones on my handout.
I also included some information about our public library's teen book club, and I also took this moment to encourage them to #1: Get a library card no matter if they stay here in the area or whatever town they go to college. And #2: When they get to their college, do a library orientation! I encouraged students that the library at their future college can save their butt, so they should become familiar. Doing a library orientation will do just that!
Finally, I included a fun book challenge. They could take it or leave it, but it's just a fun way to challenge yourself.
When I presented this to students, I used the Google Slide presentation below.
In this presentation, I covered all of the resources in my handouts as well as a few reasons why they should keep reading over the summer. I wanted to try to keep instilling in them the value of always having a TBR pile!
In addition this all the resources, I then went over with them the top 3 titles that I read this past year, accompanied with book trailers where available. I also included my summer TBR pile. The best part about these end of the year book talks was that I didn't have to worry about what books we had in the library. I could just promote the best books instead!
At the end, I directed them to a page on my library's website that is designed to help students find their next favorite book! This is one of my favorite pages on my library's website and one I don't get to use enough! This page features some interactive slides shows I have made with the tool Projeqt. Projeqt is a multimedia presentation tool where you create "stacks" of information. You can click on each of the stacks to reveal more information.
I use them to promote good books for students to read. If you check out the page on my library's website, you will see I have created a Projeqt slide show for all types of different genres. If you click on any of the book covers, it will reveal a summary of the book, any book/movie trailers of the book, and any sequels the book might have.
Check out the Sci-Fi/Dystopian Projeqt Slide Show I have on my website below:
I LOVED being able to share this resource with students! They actually really got into exploring the slide shows! They would watch a movie or book trailer here and there, and I found they actually started to write books down on the back of their handout, making a TBR pile!
In addition to the slide shows, I provided another link to a shelf on my Goodreads profile of all the books we have in the Ponderosa Library that I have read and reviewed.
Overall, this book was a win-win on all fronts. It took two weeks at the end of the year where I didn't have much foot traffic and created foot traffic. It created a good "filler" activity for English teachers wrapping up the end of the year. And it got students thinking about reading for fun, not just because they have to do SSR.
This is definitely an activity I will continue in future years, and I have been overwhelmed with the response from English teachers willing to let me give them end of the year books talks a try.
Jennifer Zimny has been a teacher librarian at Ponderosa High School for the past three years and previous to that, she was the drama teacher for 9 years. She holds a BA in Theatre from CSUS, a teaching credential in English, and a teaching credential in Library Media Services from Azusa Pacific University
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