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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Big Nate: In a Class by Himself

Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce will make you laugh out loud. The author, Lincoln Peirce, bases his first novel on his comic strip, Big Nate. Nate, a sixth-grade boy, opens a fortune cookie to find the message: Today you will surpass all others. Maybe today his fortune will actually come true. As the day goes on, things are not happening as Nate would have planned. This quick read is told with cartoon illustrations like Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid. This one would be great for reluctant readers or anyone who enjoys humorous stories.

Monday, July 26, 2010


At the end of the school year, one of my avid readers kept asking me, “Have you read it yet?” There was no way I was going back to school without having read Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith. Let me give you a little disclaimer about myself – I usually don't read scary books. I enjoy sleeping at night too much. All of my students know this about me and they often tease me because of it. Horror books are one of the most popular genres in middle school. Kids like to be scared! I’m so happy that this book was repeatedly recommended to me. I couldn’t put it down! Every relatively short chapter leaves you wanting to read what happens next. Alex Sawyer has been framed for the murder of his best friend. He is given life in prison at Furnace Penitentiary. This place is your worst nightmare. If the bad boys of the prison, the Skulls, don’t get you; most assuredly the dark creatures of the night will mark your cell and turn you into a horrific beast of destruction. Alex and his roommate, Donovan, have one goal…to escape. Did I mention that I didn’t sleep last night? Oh, but it was so worth it. Darren Shan, author of the Cirque du Freak and Demonata series, gives his endorsement – enough said!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One Crazy Summer

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia takes us to a volatile time in our history - the Civil Rights Movement. Eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters are sent from Brooklyn to spend a month with the mother she hardly remembers in Oakland, California. Delphine's mother, Cecile, left the girls and her father several years ago shortly after her youngest sister, Fern, was born. The memories Delphine has of her mother are not good ones and it doesn't help that her grandmother, Big Ma, has nothing nice to say about Cecile. When the sisters reach Oakland, Delphine must continue her role as the care-giver of the family as Cecile, who calls herself Nzila, wants the girls to stay out of her way. Cecile makes the girls go daily to the People's Center, run by the Black Panthers, where the girls learn about revolutionary ways they can help bring about change. Who are the strange men with their black berets who come to Cecile's house at night? What could Cecile possibly be doing with her poetic words and why is she insistent that the girls stay out of her kitchen? Readers will find themselves cheering on Delphine and her sisters as they try to gain Cecile's love and approval during their crazy summer of 1968.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Web 2.0 Tools Discussion

Ning communities are beneficial to those wanting a networking platform for a specific purpose. I can see students feeling comfortable using nings because they are familiar with adding photos & videos and discussing topics in that type of format. My own sons, one is headed to college and the other will be a sophomore, said they preferred using facebook. They liked when teachers created specific group pages. What I am wondering is - Does that mean the creator of the group (the teacher) can then see all of the students FB information/updates? If so, students would most likely want to use a ning for privacy issues. The ning's value is having one location to share and discuss pertinent information as a select community.

File conversions - I will admit that I have successfully converted files through trial and error. Many errors before success - to the point of tears and frustration when things did not work. I see the same frustrations in my students when they bring files from home on their flash drive only to find that it will not open at school. The last few years, I used Real Player to capture and convert Youtube videos to play at school. I am so excited to say that my school district has lifted the firewall on Youtube - to say that it has taken classroom lessons and promoting reading with book trailers to another level would be an understatement. I learned something new today - Blinkx. I didn't know there was another popular video streaming site. It is essential that students know how to find, convert, and embed video files in today's multi-media world. Many assignments given at the middle school level implement the use of technology in various ways. Some of my students do not have the luxury of having a computer at home...if they do, they don't always have someone at home that understands how to use the computer and newest software programs. It's up to teachers and library media specialists to educate them.

Digital-Age Publishing

I've been asked to reflect on what I've learned about RSS readers and how they may benefit my school community. I created an account through Google Reader and initially went crazy adding subscription bundles for my personal interests. Let's just say, I went a little bit overboard. It was information overload. Today I started over. I love that the information comes to me - I don't have to take the time to see who has updated their blog or website. I chose blogs and websites that I already had listed in my favorites on AOL. Professionally, some of my favorites are The Goddess of YA Literature, YA Books and More,, and Welcome to NCS-Tech! . For my personal life, my favorites include My Cozy Book Nook, Book Club Girl, Whole Fish, and The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Can you tell that I love to eat as much as I like to read? I can see how the subscriptions I have added to my Google Reader page can help me stay up-to-date with what others are saying about literature and the current technology available. I will be a better library media specialist by utilizing this information and sharing it with my patrons. It is vital that our students are exposed to the best resources available to them and that they learn how to use it to their advantage.

Can't Wait to Share my Love of Reading

People who know me will say, "What took you so long?". I've comfortably shared information about the books I am currently reading through Having a blog is definitely a big leap for me. The purpose of my blog is to let you know about the books I'm reading. Most of the books will be for upper elementary and middle school readers. I am currently listening to Maze Runner by James Dashner. It is on the 2010-11 Texas Lone Star Reading list. This is a book that was brought to my attention because my multiple copies in the library were always checked out by my students. I am only half way through and I can see why - it has mystery, suspense, and dystopia. The main character, Thomas, awakens in a new world called The Glade only to find that he cannot remember anything about his past.There are only boys living there. A new boy comes every 30 days just as Thomas did. The only means of escape is to find their way through a maze that surrounds The Glade and houses horrifying creatures called Grievers. Things become even more mysterious when a girl arrives in a comatose state the day after Thomas arrives. This book will appeal to readers who liked The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.