Friday, May 30, 2008

My summer reading: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

This is why I LOVE summer - I read outside on my deck for a few hours last night while the kids were out at baseball practice and hanging with their friends (love/hate that I have a child old enough to roam the neighborhood by himself, but at least I can track him down because of the new cell phone we bought him!)

Last night my book of choice was the newest by E. Lockhart (author of one of my fave's Dramarama), The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

This is the story of Frankie, geek, debate club member one year, babe the next. Frankie Landau-Banks is a girl in transition. When she goes a back to her elite Massachusetts boarding school for her sophomore year, she comes back as a babe - and gets noticed by a SENIOR! As she struggles to combine who she is with what she looks like, she falls in love and in the process realizes who she truly is. After realizing that she is being excluded from her boyfriends "secret society" she sets out to topple the "boys club" and she does so without thinking about the consequences, not only with school but also with what might happen if she is caught by her boyfriend.

I love the dialogue that Lockhart writes and I also love how she makes the characters a little quirky (like Matthew's obsession with correcting grammar). The secret society she writes about reminds me of a Gilmore Girls episode when Rory sets out to write a story about (future) boyfriend Logan's association with the Life and Death brigade at Yale. This would have been a book I would have "eaten up" as a teenager - in my early teens I had wanted to live the "preppy" life and go to a boarding school - the closest I got was Catholic school- but I also remember trying to balance who I was with wanting to make an impression on guys - and as my daughter gets older (she is 10) I am starting to think about how I can help her go through these transitions too.
This was a great summer read and a book I know that a lot of teenage girls will relate to.

other reviews:

check out an interview with E. Lockhart at YaYa's

and also E. Lockhart's blog

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Olivia hits the small screen

One of my favorite pig characters is about to hit the small screen, Ian Falconer's Olivia will be made into an animated TV series on Nickelodeon for the fall of 2009. I have a love hate relationship with kids TV - I love when a book character becomes a TV show but I hate when a TV show becomes a book (you will never see me buying Sponge Bob books for my media center, no matter how popular they are with the kids!)

I hope they incorporate the things that I love about Olivia - her appreciation for art (painting a Jackson Pollack), her panache for history (having a poster of Eleanor Roosevelt in her bedroom) and just being a creative little pig. I hope they choose someone FABULOUS to voice her!

I can't help but think - could a Pigeon show be far behind???

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Summer Vacation!

Although I do hate it when people tell me how nice it must be to be in teaching, the hours , the vacations, how EASY it must be just to read books all day (ha!) and while I usually have a snide comment to make to any of those things - summer vacation is a VERY nice perk of the job! I just hope that our school district doesn't see this article, about a think tank in the UK who are proposing only a 2 week summer vacation, although I would hate to see out summer vacation be only 2 weeks, they do have a point about kids losing skills over the summer. (thanks to Jen for the link)

Now, I am doing some work this summer, taking a few technology classes, catching up on reading so I can do some great book talks come fall, getting together some orders so when I find out how much budget I have this year I can either order them or start cutting things out and also working on a virtual field trip movie/webquest on the Revolutionary War, specifically the Boston/Massachusetts connection.

First up is a trip to the library with my kids to get them signed up for the summer reading program and to check out some books - getting my 12 year old to read this summer is going to be tough, it is tough enough during the school year, but I am hoping one of these days I will get him into a book that connects to him and makes him WANT to read!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In the News!

One of my students hosted a used book sale last Friday in the media center. I could tell you all about it, but this article about her in the Atlanta Journal Constitution does a much better job!

Thanks to columnist Rick Badie for interviewing her, she really is a special girl!

What a way to end my first year!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Summer Reading at the Rock

Well here it is, my long awaited summer reading program.

There had never been anything formal done here at my school and there is no mandatory summer reading list like there was at my old (Catholic) school. So I decided not to reinvent the wheel. Our Public Library has a great program and so does Barnes & Noble. I created a tri-fold brochure (which was a good idea until I had to fold 1150 of them!) and took a page to highlight the public library program and a page to highlight the Barnes & Noble program. Then I added in two elements of my own. Here is the copy from my brochure detailing my program:

This summer the Rock Springs Media Center is holding a summer reading program that will ROCK your summer.
The rules are easy,
1. All you have to do is READ some great books this summer
2. Complete TWO of the activities listed below
3. Fill out the Rock Springs Rocks Summer Reading form on the back of this flyer
4. Hand it into the Media Center on Registration day in August (August 7, 2008). You will receive a prize for being a Rocking Summer Reader.

Complete TWO of these activities:
1. Participate in the Gwinnett County Library Summer Reading Program (see page 3)
2. Participate in the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program (see pg. 4)
3. Send Mrs. Schmidt a postcard this summer about a book you are reading (see pg. 6)

I also have another element - a summer reading BLOG. ON the blog I have put up links to reading lists and links to the summer reading programs I have mentioned. I also plan on blogging about the books I read (well the kid-lit books) and maybe some kid-lit related news. I have also promised some of my students that I would post my SLIME recipe for them and maybe a few other science experiments over the summer.

The link to my summer reading page is here.

I am planning on using the postcards to create my bulletin board outside the media center for the beginning of school.

Like my reading Raptors program, I guess we'll use this as a learning year and see how much participation I get come August. Of course I have NO IDEA what the prize will be for completing this program - but I have until August 7th to figure it out. Any ideas on CHEAP prizes are welcome!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

End of the Year Craziness

We are officially in the midst of the school year craziness. Awards ceremonies, textbook inventory, planning for next year and of course the end of the year crunch of getting all library materials returned.

As of the end of today we have 26 more (student) books to be returned (or paid for) and 5 school days left.  Last year the school had only 3 books that were not returned or paid for.... it's not looking good for us to break that record this year.  At this point, I'll be happy with single digits.

As the end of my first year here closes I am trying to reflect on what worked, what didn't and what I want to accomplish next year.  In a school this big, where I am the only media specialist, it is sometimes hard to do all that you want to do and I have found this out the hard way sometimes.  
*  I think that my storytime offerings were a BIG hit and that when I did something a little different, like science in the media center, the teachers (and kids) loved it.  

* My reference challenge worked out well for the 4th graders, but I need to get more 5th grade teachers on board next year.

* My changes to the morning news show were also well received (basically, I made it shorter), but I am trying to figure out a way to work with kids on a more project basis using video and video editing on the computer (using Windows Movie Maker, sadly, my district as a No Mac's allowed policy)

* I would like to work on staff development a little more next year, especially in the technology area since we are getting ready for a big shift in our technology (projectors in all classrooms and all new computers in the building).  

* I would also like to collaborate with teachers more on projects.  It took me half the year to just get all the teachers names right, never mind reach out to them to collaborate on things.  I think I have found out who the "receptive" teachers are and I will target them next year.  

* I am already working on next years Reading Raptors reading program and am in the process of contacting some authors for author visits to our school for next year and I am REALLY excited about that.

I will admidt that as much as I love my job, I am pretty excited to sleep in and get to tackle the stack of books I have been waiting to read this summer.  

Tomorrow I will post about my summer reading program and about my summer reading blog (for kids).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Jerry Spinelli

I met Jerry Spinelli last night - my first thought - he looks like my DAD! I wonder if he is Irish?

He was in town for the IRA conference and did a presentation for educators at the FABULOUS bookstore, Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA. It was a small gathering (although there were quite a few kids there and my 10 year old daughter was DYING to go, but I told her it was just for teachers - oh well!) and we got a seat right up front - which was good because the acoustics were HORRIBLE in the loft area of the store where his presentation was, plus they had an author event downstairs with Rick Riordan with about a million (ok, I am exaggerating a bit) 10 year olds waiting to get their books signed.

Teacher Ninja was also at the event, and he says he called my name, but between the noise and trying to get out of there to get some food, I didn't hear him - he has a great review of the event also!

My favorite part of his talk was when he told us he doesn't write for a specific audience, he just writes the story - WOW! He also told us about how he has a story idea and he takes it to lunch and lets it "talk to him", tell him it's story - again - WOW.

My son's 6th grade class is reading Maniac Magee right now and I had Mr. Spinelli sign a copy of his newest book for my son - I am hoping that maybe he will read it this summer. My son is NOT a reader, and Mr. Spinelli told us that he was not either - he was a baseball player - which is what my son is also - so I got a little bit of HOPE from Mr. Spinelli - maybe there is hope that Ryan will find the right book and reading will become something he enjoys. Mr. Spinelli told me to tell him to READ inbetween playing ball - good advice!!
I have been so lucky lately. In the past few months I have met Jerry Spinelli, Mo Willems, Coleen Salley and a few other authors - we are really lucky here in Atlanta to have such opportunities!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Coleen Salley

What an incredible woman - I had SO much fun on Friday, I don't know where to start!
For those of you not familiar with Coleen Salley, she is 78 years old, she lives in the French Quarter in New Orleans. She is a retired teacher/school librarian and college professor. She published her first book after she retired, when she was 72!  She is a story-teller extraordinaire. Not only were the students excited by her performances, the teachers were as well.

Then after her performances, there were the STORIES - the ones form her life and travels - she is s straight from the hip kind of gal - and I LOVED it - I can only hope I am like that when I am 78.  Anyone who rides in a shopping carriage in a Mardi Gras parade has chupah!

Here are a few pictures - the hats are right out of the Epossomundas books - Coleen's hat is the hat she travels with, our hats were made by one of our kindergarten teachers. She was truly an inspiration in so many ways, she is one of those people that I will never forget meeting, and I really hope that I have the chance to cross paths with her again (a few teachers are already talking ROAD TRIP to New Orleans!)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Great Week!!

What a GREAT week it has been, not only have I had a BLAST doing the SLIME in the media center this week, I got to see Bon Jovi at Phillips arena on Wednesday night - and I just have to say it again - that man (Jon Bon Jovi) just gets better with age!

I took yesterday off as a recovery day and it was a beautiful spring Atlanta day - ate sushi outside, it was FABULOUS!

Today I am welcoming author Coleen Salley to my media center. She is in town for the IRA conference and she will be speaking to Kindergarten and 1st graders. I talked to her on the phone the other day and I just can't WAIT to meet her!
Does it get any better than this!

(photo of JBJ from