Friday, January 19, 2018

Harry Potter Newspaper, Anyone?

One of the interesting parts of being a librarian/media coordinator is learning new technology so that, as a digital learning guru in my district, I can teach my staff how to incorporate it into their teaching. At NCSLMA17, one session mentioned briefly a way to make Harry Potter styled newspapers for student projects and bulletin boards. This intrigued me, but they didn't really give directions so...

It became an investigative project for Library Science II. (This class has students look at various units from the perspective of a librarian.) The project was to create a newspaper and have two pictures that used the information from the conference to "make the pictures come alive" as they do in The Daily Prophet. How does this work?

First, articles are written on the subject matter. Students in a class could research singly or in groups. Once the articles are written, and placed in Google Docs if making a shared document, they need to attach the pictures.

Using the green screen first, they film the actions for the picture. If it is going to be a"talking" picture, they will need to be sure to have good sound quality. The background of this video will be the still picture in the newspaper. Once this has been filmed and saved, they will move over to the app. (We use iPads which made the entire process very easy.)

The Aurasma app, which is free for Android and iOS, is being used at our school under one school account in the media center for my classes. A teacher could create one account for his/her classes to make this easier and so students do not make individual accounts. The necessary pieces are uploaded to the app and then inserted as a picture in the newspaper.

Now, when looking at the newspaper when printed, all you see is the background of the video. For instance, if the article is a literature piece set in a "fairy tale" you could use Neuschwanstein Castle as the backdrop. Without going any further, the picture connects to the article as a "normal" photograph. The magic occurs when the picture is viewed through the Aurasma app using a camera or sure to have the sound on if it has audio! Suddenly the picture changes from black and white to color, people appear and move! Voila! Your own magical newspaper.

If doing this with multiple articles, be sure to have students work in columns to make the entire piece have that effect on the viewer. These can be displayed on a bulletin board with a device nearby for viewing.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Community Movie Night and Book Drive

A few months ago, I was contacted by SSG Cepeda, a member of the Johnston County Leadership Team, in conjunction with The Partnership for Children of Johnston County, about the 1-2-3-4-5 Book Drive. This book drive is collecting new and gently read books for Johnston County schoolchildren in elementary schools. The goal is to gather 5 books per student, a very lofty and worthwhile goal!

With the permission of my principal, I began planning a Community Movie Night and Book Drive to help gather some books. It took a little while to get a date in place that didn't clash with athletic events, drama/band/chorus, or any of the events at our elementary and middle feeder schools. Finally we had a date...which happened to be my husband's birthday, but he was okay with this event taking place on that night.

So...flyers in the shape of bookmarks were made and distributed to the elementary schools. (Thanks to some great library assistants who cut them apart and bundled them for shipping in the courier service!) My tech facilitator created a digital flyer for the websites at the schools. I picked up the video, learned the system in the auditorium, had a club (The Technology Student Association...which does need donations for their robotics competition by the way) ready to sell concessions as their fundraiser, and the National Honor Society collecting books and ready for cleanup and then....

You know the saying about best-laid plans?

Then the basketball games against a big rival had to be moved up one night due to a possibility of inclement weather. While this might not have affected our attendance, I have a feeling it did have an impact of a slight bit at least.

Anyway, for those who came to the auditorium side of the school last night, we had a great time. The movie, Arthur Christmas, was funny and enjoyed by all. The TSA raised some money towards their robotics (although they are accepting donations of any amount if you are willing to help!), and we have a box of books for SSG Cepeda to collect on Monday. (We are still collecting books through April. Just bring them by the library!)

I learned a lot about hosting Community Movie Nights through this one, and I look forward to having another one, hopefully in the spring. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

New Resource during Research Season

'Tis the Season to Do Research, Fa La La La La....

And so it begins! As always, the changing of the leaves, the smell of pumpkin spice, and the myriad of all things pumpkin (and all that early Christmas stuff thrown in) everywhere heralds the time of the great research migration of classes to the media center.

With old topics (and new!) coming to the media center, I have learned of a new resource as I help teach and guide students on their start of the different projects. Many students have never used databases or e-books for research (i.e.: freshmen) while others have forgotten their Boolean search techniques so I tailor each lesson for the particular project's requirements. With topics on prejudice during the 1920s-40s, genocide, world religions and so on, this gives a huge juxtaposition of presentations.

Thanks to one of our science teachers, I learned about a resource that has helped make these lessons interactive: Pear Deck. After creating my google presentation, I upload it into my account. Then I can add question slides. These can be short answer, yes/no, and multiple choice answers. With the questions imbedded in the lesson, students use their phones, the iPads, or chromebooks to follow along and participate in the lesson. What I really like is that the answers are saved with their names (they log in with their school email) so I have data from each presentation. Now I know who "gets" the Boolean search part of the lesson, especially important with freshmen who have never searched a database before. Everyone puts in a practice search on their topic and it appears on my iPad in real time. This is incredibly beneficial because I can give instant feedback.

Pear deck has a free and a paid account. My principal paid for teachers to have accounts, and we are so very fortunate he did. Thank you to Mr. Jones for sharing this resource, and thank you to Mr. Daniels for purchasing it for us! It has been wonderful to use!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Minion Invasion!

When someone mentions to the entire staff that I can handle technology issues while they are out (watch it, Mr. Wall!)...and then they mention the possibility of flames, noxious fumes or.....MINION INVASIONS of the computers, well, you never know what might happen!


Open up a cart and what do you find?

Trying to hide behind the Smart Panel?

3-D Minions?

No More Copies of Minions!

Who ya gonna call? More Minions?

You can have the laminator. I'll give you that.

 They are everywhere!


Who made that mess in the server room? 

You'd better not mess with my microwave!

Time to call for copier repair! 

Look out! 

 They've gotten ahold of the master phone!

Looks like one is planning on impersonating Mr. Wall! 

Don't feed the minions!

They invaded alright! In fact, Mr. Wall, they seemed to have invaded your desk and all the technology in the library! (They can have the laminator, but they need to leave the microwave alone!)

Fun and Patriotic Times

We had a lot of fun with the Preamble Challenge. Thank you to our sponsors for helping make it a success! A shout-out once again to Char-grill of Clayton, Sheetz in Clayton, Dairy Queen in Clayton, Wendy's in Clayton, Subway at Flowers Plantation, and Bojangles of the Triangle for donating the prizes.

To begin, the history department, some members eagerly and others slightly hesitantly, joined the JROTC instructors in advertising our Preamble Challenge with a commercial. This collaborative effort earned praises from central services staff and looked great! Of course, I think Colonel Stallings and Sergeant McLaurin had the most fun based on the bloopers reel! You can judge the final product for yourselves:

Preamble Challenge Commercial #1

As the challenge approached, I decided I needed a second commercial. Because I filmed during the block with no media assistants, I had to start and stop the filming on my own, making my own bloopers reel rather interesting. The final product looked great...although I was walking on water...

Preamble Challenge Commercial #2

Finally, the Challenge Week was here! We had great participation from many students. Even some teachers joined in! While some students stumbled a little, for the most part everyone did a fabulous job. In fact, the 4th block Theater Arts class performed a musical version, arranged and accompanied by Mrs. Nixon on guitar. It was wonderful. Although I can't put all of them together into a video (it would be WAAAAAY too long!), here are some highlights of the challenge!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It's Here!

The long awaited start of the school year!

Wait! What?

You haven't been eagerly anticipating this day for ages? When new books sit awaiting you (and there are over 50 of them already here!)?

What is in store for this year? Several things, but let's start with:

Look familiar in any way? I hope so! It's the Constitution, which begins with the Preamble. That goes as follows:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Why is this on my blog? Well, in honor of Constitution Day (September 17th), we are having a Preamble Challenge! All students who can SUCCESSFULLY recite the Preamble in front of the green screen will be able to spin the prize wheel. You only have one shot at it, I'm afraid. And don't try to sing the School House Rock version. It's incomplete. You can try your turn at the challenge from September 11-15 in the media center.

What prizes can you win? Well, the prizes are donated food cards from various businesses. These generous donors have given us over 200 total prizes for this challenge!

Start refreshing your memory of the Preamble now for your chance to win milkshakes, specialty coffees, ice cream, combo meals, hamburgers, and subs!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

High School Battle of the Books (Pirate BOB?)

"So how is this going to work?"

That is the question I have been asked several times by students I have run into over the past several weeks (or their parents).

Well, as a member of the NCSLMA (pronounced N C Slamma and standing for North Carolina School Library Media Association) High School Battle of the Books State Committee, I can tell you what the committee has discussed for this inaugural year

  • We will use the elementary and middle school rules (mostly) with tweaks to fit the unique schedules and needs of high school students. Those rules can be read here: Middle school manual
  • When will we meet? During SMART lunch, but the day (or days if we need to split into two days to fit member's obligations to other clubs/tutorials/etc.) is up to you. Just not Thursday B lunch because NHS meets in the library on that day, 3rd week of every month. And Knockout Poetry has Monday A lunch unless they change that. 
  • The competition will be done before spring break. This will allow anyone taking AP classes to have plenty of time to start studying. The committee determined this for when a regional competition begins in 2019.
  • Who will we compete against? It is not mandatory for any school to participate. If you have friends at other JoCo schools who want to participate, they need to gather other friends and bug the mess...ahem...politely beg their media coordinator/librarian to start the team while explaining the librarian doesn't need to do a lot of work, etc. to do this. Princeton and Clayton High are on-board. Encourage friends at Cleveland, SSS, NJHS, SJHS, and WJHS to get teams going! The librarian is required to join NCSLMA so he/she has to be on board as an advisor. Other teachers (reading or book club advisor?) can be a part of this too!)
  •  We will be writing practice questions and sharing them with other schools...they will share their questions with us, so it balances out and helps us prepare for competition. All questions start with "In which book...." and the answer is the title, so it's not like having to write essay questions! Do we want them on index cards are a google form for submission? You will decide! (Let your friends at other schools know this...another way it's not much work for the advisor!)
  • Who is in charge? You will elect someone. Or two someones. Maybe a team of someones. Once again, team captains or student coaches, etc. will be a group decision.
  • How does a competition work? Six people at a time (or less, but six questions per school) compete against another school in a game show type format. The questions all start: "In which book..." and the answer is the title with a bonus point for the author's name. However, 12 students max can compete. More students than that can be in BOB. There is a time limit. The team can confer to determine the answer, but only the student asked the question may answer. If time is called or the title is incorrect, the other team has the opportunity, with less time, to answer for partial points (and no bonus for author name). You compete against all schools in the competition in rounds. Points from all rounds are added together to determine the winner. There is also a challenge process if you feel an answer called incorrect was correct.
  • How will the CHHS BOB (Pirate BOBs?) determine who competes? That's up to the students. I am the advisor. In elementary and middle schools, the coach/advisor takes charge. But it is my opinion that decisions like that will come from YOU, the students. To compete, you have to do more than sign up and be in the yearbook photo.W ith only one decision coming from me: there will be NO tests to determine who is on the team. 
    • Let's get real here. BOB is fun. You all take enough tests in high school without there being one for this so attendance, participation, the number of books read, who can stand on their head the longest, who provides chocolate chip cookies for the team, or whatever else you come up with can be used as a criteria, but tests will not be part of it. (In case you don't get my sense of humor, the cookies are a joke. Bribery should be not be allowed. I do love CC cookies, but I'm not choosing who competes.)
  • Another item up for discussion is the team shirt: we should find out info from the county about this, but there will probably be a cost involved. Because it's the first year, I'm not sure if there will be a county or school design. (The county winner usually designs something for all schools but we don't have a winner yet!) I'll get back to you on that. Hopefully it won't be too much, but we will discuss it when we have more details.
At this point, I have read 10 of the 15 books. The other 5 will be ordered ASAP when funding comes at the start of the school year (think beginning to mid-September). If you have the opportunity to check any of these books out from the local library, go ahead and jump right in.

If you find you absolutely hate or can't get into a book, put it down! You rarely remember details from a book you cannot stand the thought of reading so better not waste  your time. Move on to the next book! In case you have lost your list, can't get on my website, etc., the books are:

*The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 
Sherman Alexie
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

*Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad
M.T. Anderson
In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and—eventually—one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.

*Six of Crows
Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price--and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction―if they don't kill each other first

Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines--puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.
But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win--and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

*The Hunted
Matt de la Pena

When the Big One hit, Shy was at sea in style. The Paradise Cruise luxury liner he worked on was a hulking specimen of the best money could buy. And now it's at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, along with almost all of its passengers. Shy wasn't the only one to survive, though. Addie, the rich blond daughter of a mysterious businessman, was on the dinghy he pulled himself into. But as soon as they found the rest of the survivors, she disappeared. The only thing that filled the strange void of losing her was finding Carmen, his hot coworker, and discovering a way to get back home. But Shy's luck hasn't turned. Not yet. Back on the dinghy, Addie told him a secret. It's a secret that people would kill for--have killed for--and she has the piece that could turn everything on its ear. The problem? Shy has no idea where Addie is. Back home in California seems logical, but there are more ways to die back home then Shy could ever have guessed. And thanks to what Shy now knows, he's a moving target.

Yaa Gyasi
Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.  Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Laura Hillenbrand
In boyhood, Louis Zamperini was an incorrigible delinquent. As a teenager, he channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when World War II began, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to a doomed flight on a May afternoon in 1943. When his Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean, against all odds, Zamperini survived, adrift on a foundering life raft. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

The Invention of Wings 
Sue Monk Kidd
Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Everything is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

*We Were Liars
E. Lockhart
A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth.

*The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
Wes Moore
Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

*I’ll Give You the Sun 
Jandy Nelson
At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude; inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor. The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

George Orwell
The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.
Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thought crimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching...

Rainbow Rowell
Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life--and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to. Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

*The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance.

An Ember in the Ashes 
Sabaa Tahir
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.  Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear. It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do. But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy. There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.