Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vote for Books!

As I was looking around today for some supplies for the Media Center for next year, I came across Highsmith's Vote For Books contest.

The nominee's have been announced and now is the time for you to read some of the nominees. The voting begins on September 1st.

I have read almost all of the selections, but what a cool idea - voting for books.  I am in the middle of trying to figure out some kind of lesson/activity to do for the upcoming election and I really like this idea - who cares about Obama vs McCain - the real contest will be Knuffle Bunny vs Max from Where the Wild Things Are!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Keeping Score

Yes, it is another review of a baseball book - but this time the book is a little different than ones I have read recently - the main character of the story is a GIRL!

Keeping Score (grade 4 and up) by Linda Sue Park is the story of Maggie-O (as in DiMaggio) a girl growing up in Brooklyn, NY in the early 1950's. She loves the Brooklyn Dodgers and loves to listen to them on the radio at the local firehouse where her Dad used to work (he was reassigned to a desk job after an accident). One day while listening to the game she meets the newest member of the firehouse, a guy named Jim, who is a Giants fan! Although they cheer for rival teams, they develop a friendship based on baseball. He is drafted into the Army, and is shortly shipped off to the Korean War. Maggie becomes a pen pal to him and through a three year period Maggie learns about disappointment and life lessons through her friendship with Jim and through baseball. The story also weaves Maggie's Catholic religion throughout the book and her heritage of being born to an Irish mother and Italian father . I love how Ms. Park (who was born to Korean immigrants) has Maggie describe her heritage - "Monday, Wednesday and Friday were macaroni nights. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday meant potatoes. Sundays alternated."

Although this book is set in the 1950's during the Korean war, I can see how kids today can relate to it and how they might be asking the same kind of questions about the Iraq war today that Maggie has about the Korean war.

This books also is one of those rare books that could appeal to both boys and girls.

the Washington Post has a review of the book here (and 2 other baseball books)
a review by a tweleve year old reader is at Flamingnet book review
SLJ gave it a good review also

In other baseball news, the Red Sox are in 1st (although only by 1.5 games) and next weekend my 7 year old's all-star team will be playing in the GA State pee-wee championship tournament - Go CH EAGLES!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Technology

Being a school media specialist, my job is many things - books (obviously), teaching and technology are the big three. This past week I am doing some training on the last one - technology and actually I am attending these training sessions with the hope that maybe they will have some good tips/tricks/handouts so when I have to do some staff development on these subjects to my teachers I can borrow from them.

The first class I took this week was about using digital cameras in the classroom. We looked at Picasa (a free download, part of the Google family) which I had used one time before, but realized through the class that it has a lot of cool features, especially for photo editing and Photo story 3 (a free download software)- which again, I have used before and I think is great for teachers and students to create simple photo "stories", but for me, I would still rather use iMovie on my Mac or Windows Movie Maker on the PC. There were also some great ideas shared, I loved the idea of having the kids take photos with a digital camera around the school and writing a story to go with the photos and turning it into a little movie using Photostory. I am trying to secure some funding to purchase a class set (well, 1/2 a class set) of digital cameras so teachers can check them out and use them with their students.

The second class I took was Windows Movie maker, a program I have used a lot, but I did find out some tips and tricks with the program. The teachers also shared some movies that have been made by teachers and students, they had a great one that had students going around the school and taking pictures of fractions, putting them in a movie and narrating it - it really helped them to understand the concept of fractions in a "real world" kind of way.

I am lucky, my school (and school district) has a lot of technology available to students, the problem I have found, though, is that teachers are so busy they do not have the time to learn the technology or the time to integrate the technology into their lessons.

I am hoping to offer some technology classes after school this year, short, 1 hour classes that will just let teachers know what we have available and how they can use these in the classroom, but of course my problem is, getting the teachers to come to the classes in addition to everything else they have to do after school.

I have one more class this week on Google and using Goole products in the classroom - this should be a good one.

if you are in Georgia, check out the ETTC ( educational technology training center) in your area. they offer classes in all kinds of technology for teachers in the state and in some cases, can even offer courses to be taught at your school.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


This is very off topic, but I am just so excited to introduce my newest "reader" my niece Lilly, born yesterday on Friday the 13th- I hope it turns out to be very lucky for her (and YES, I have already given her the complete set of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse books - the red boots, purple purse and movie star sunglasses will come for her 1st birthday!)  And of course, I have already started her library out with 3 signed books (by Mo Willems, Melinda Long and Coleen Salley) - maybe I see a future librarian......

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Meme and a Baseball Book

Jen tagged me for a summer goals meme, and even thought my "summer" (which to me goes from the last day of school to the first day of school) is well under way, I will play!

My top 4 goals for the summer:

1. Exercise - I had been a MAJOR slacker this school year so I am back - so far in the past 2 weeks I have walked 5 out of 7 days and due to my dance recital this weekend, I have been tapping away at least 2-3 times a week (YES, I am in a dance recital, I take "advanced adult tap" and it is SO much FUN!)

2. Catch up on reading - I have done pretty good on this goal, see the list of books I have already knocked out on the right.

3. Work - yes, teachers/media specialist do still try and WORK during the summer.  I have 3 classed that I am taking next week (all technology related) but I have been a slacker about getting some lessons planned and getting to work on my Revolutionary War virtual field trip (the freedom trail in Boston) - I really need to get going on this stuff!

4. Cook - this has been hard so far since one son is still in baseball and my daughter and I still have dance, but I am doing better than I was during the school year - although I made a FABULOUS blueberry barbecue sauce, which I grilled pork tenderloins with and grilled corn on Sunday night and only my oldest son ate it (the other 2 kids ended up eating at friends and the husband was sleeping - he works nights) sigh.

5. Visit my family - I have a new niece who should be arriving in this world any day now and I have 2 more adorable nieces up in Massachusetts that hopefully we will get to play with soon (plus enjoy a Red Sox game or two, some fried clams and the BEACH on Cape Cod!

oops - that is 5 isn't it, oh well, I like numbers in multiples of 5! I won't tag anyone specifically, but feel free to join the fun!

Last night I finished the new Mike Lupica book The Big Field.  I am a sucker for a good baseball book, and this is no exception.  This is the story of Hutch, a 14 year old from Florida playing in an American Legion summer league (I remember going to Legion baseball games when I was in high school!)  Hutch loves baseball, not just playing, but the game itself.  But he encounters some stumbling blocks this summer, namely his father (and ex-minor league baseball player) and the new kid on the team, a superstar named Darryl.

There is of course a few "big games" and even a reference to the Bill Buckner (Red Sox) through the legs error in the 1986 World Series against the Mets.  

This would be a great book to put in the hands of a middle grades (4th and up) boy this summer, especially if he is a baseball player or fan - I know I am hoping to get my 12 year old reading it this summer!

Well, off to the library to pick up some books on hold and to mail some Father's Day cards!
If you live on the East Coast - stay COOL!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Book Challenge

Mother Reader sponsors the 48 hour book challenge every year - and every year I say "Oh I can't wait to do that" and every year those darn kids of mine have something more pressing that they want/need me to do than spend the weekend reading.

Instead of reading this weekend I will be spending it with my youngest son sweating in 90 degree heat watching his baseball all star team play 3 games. I guess I could bring a book along and read between games, but my fantasy of the 48 hour book challenge is locking myself away in a cabin in the mountains, with a stack of books, some good munchies and some good red wine. Now of course, I do not own said cabin in the mountains, so for next year if anyone has one they would like to let me borrow, please let me know!

I have managed to read 2 books this week (while watching my kids/burning myself at the pool) this week:

The Willoughby's by Lois Lowry - a very funny farce about a family of children who look at themselves as "old fashioned" children and look to have themselves orphaned - because all old fashioned children in old fashioned books are orphans, you know. This book was laugh out loud funny, but I wonder if the intended audience of middle grades would "get" as much humour out of the book. I am having my 10 year old read it this week, so we shall see if she gets the humor of it all!

Then I re-read Deborah Wiles book Each Little Bird That Sings. I am talking with Ms. Wiles to have her visit my school next year and as it happens, this books is part of our Readers Rally book choices for 2008-09 (book competition for grades 4 & 5) and I remember how much I loved this book.

This week I am going to work on reading some more readers rally books and also try and fit in an adult books or two in!

If you are participating in the 48 hour book challenge - happy reading!!