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.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

It's Over (Sort of and Almost)

The end of the year is one of those crazy, hectic times with way too much to do! Here is today's (and the next 4 workdays) to do list:

1. Make sure the state DMLI report is finalized and signed off.

2. Submit the Collection Development Plan. (Luckily our MTAC has already approved one and I'm just checking for typos!)

3. Work on the copyright presentation animated video for August's voice-over time! Ya-ba-da-do!  That should give a hint as to some of the characters for next year's exciting video!

4. Encourage teachers to choose some of the weeded fiction books. I think a few Louis L'Amour books are still left although they did go very quickly at the staff luncheon!

5. Clean the office.

6. Dispose of the magazine collection left from 4 years ago when we still had magazine subscriptions.

7. Print the summer overdue/fine list for the front office for the parking pass sale.

8. Print directions for accessing Destiny for transfer students for overdue/fines for the parking pass sale.

9. Prepare the fall book order to have it ready to go once funding comes.

10. Finalize the Ed Foundation grant for the September deadline so it is ready for August mailing.

11. Repair the To Kill A Mockingbird books and fix the numbering issues in the computer.

WHEW! I think I'll be busy, but that's why they call them "workdays!"

(Fortunately, not all of these items take hours, and several of them are in various stages of completion already.)


Friday, May 12, 2017

Ah, The Joys of May

March brings "March Madness," crazy weather, tornado drills, and prom.

April showers bring...flooded roads, delays, gray days...and April means spring break, still a lot of school days, AP reviews, and the Spring Reading Marathon.

May means AP tests, Junior Papers, Senior Papers, projects, inventory, new website platforms, and Anakin starting to behave!

As the Library TAs learn the joys of shelf order and inventory (although they have now admitted it's not as bad as they thought, just a lot of books), the TSA is in the midst of the printing of their fidget spinners. With AP testing going on, it became necessary to move Anakin just as he had completed several rounds of perfect prints! (We couldn't print in the library as the students tested that afternoon.) Thanks to an ingenious idea, he connected wirelessly to a Mac and rolled his way into the library office where he seemed to enjoy his trip because he kept right on seemlessly! Whew!

A lesson was learned before this, however. NEVER LEAVE ANAKIN UNATTENDED. His "babysitter" decided to leave and that's when this happened:

Once the mess was cleaned up, and he cooled off, the next TSA student tried again. Rather than learn from the mistake of the other student, he also took a break and left. Anakin revolted again:

The moral of the story: ANAKIN LIKES COMPANY! (And lots of attention, it would seem.)

Meanwhile in the world of inventory, an attentive TA discovered, that the original book order when the library opened called for us to have the book Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators by William Stolzenberg. This is the book the company gave us:

As you can see by the barcode, it is for the high school nonfiction book...which we don't have. Sigh. Somehow, I don't think Maurice Sendak's monsters will be acceptable as a source for any research papers...Has the statue of limitations run out on returning the book? We'll soon find out!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

3D Printing with Anakin

Well, we're one week into this adventure, and we've learned quite a bit (although we don't have tech support on speed dial. Yet.)

The printer has been named Anakin. After Anakin Skywalker. (Warning, this is a spoiler alert if you are one of the approximately, um, three people I know reading this blog who have never seen Star Wars...) As everyone else knows, Ani is cute, at first, and very smart. However, he becomes a rather petulant, spoiled brat at times...and that is as an adult....

Sounds a lot like our printer.

It does well on prints it likes, like the Captain's wheel which it has printed numerous times already. Or the cloud spinner for the fundraiser. The elliptical gears are another story.

However, when printing multiple piece prints, or those with small pieces, it throws little clotting temper tantrums at 67%, 84%, even 90%...and no filament comes out. This, naturally, ruins the entire print. Once, when unloading the filament to remove the clog, Anakin had the audacity to have the filament break off in an awkward place. I'm sure he thought it was funny as we had to relay messages across the media center from the circulation desk to the computer nook as we talked to tech support. But the force was with us...we have solutions if he tries that trick again.

Now that we are finally understanding 3D vocabulary like brims, rafts, infill and so forth, we are getting ready to move into the next realm of Anakin's talents: 3D scanning.

May the force be with us.

The infamous clots

Some of the "almost dones"

They look done, until you look at the thickness
(lack thereof)

An attempt at a gyroscope...two layers thick before Ani quit.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


For the last few years, James Patterson has been extremely generous in creating grants for books. He has helped numerous school libraries (I applied, but was not a lucky recipient) as well as small, independent book stores. This year's grant contest is a bit different.

While I wish this opportunity was for the library, I love that James Patterson's generosity is extending this year to the classroom teacher's library. When I taught middle school, I had to build my own classroom library, including a collection of Spanish language novels for my low-level English Language Learners who otherwise found book projects difficult to complete. (By reading the novel in their native Spanish, they could concentrate on the writing project in English and, therefore, improve their written language skills on that particular assignment.)

I hope all of my classroom teacher friends and colleagues take the time to read the grant requirements and apply for this fabulous opportunity. He is giving away $1.75 million in $500 increments so you have a GREAT chance to improve (or start!) a classroom library. While only not everyone will actually receive the grants, if you don't apply, you definitely won't receive it!

James Patterson Classroom Library Grants

Friday, April 21, 2017

Let the Printing Adventures Begin

The week before the week before spring break it finally arrived! (No, not the Easter Bunny....our 3-D printer!)

We now have the Da Vinci 3-n-1 1.0 Pro 3-D Printer in our computer nook! It took a day or two to actually read through all of the directions and understand everything, as well as calibrate and level the platform. Then we had to explore the many different possibilities for printing. We are also in the final stages of writing the rules for printing for students.

Yes, students will be able to print on this fabulous new piece of technology! The rules will involve a few things like not designing things that break school rules, the size limitations (it's not going to print a car, for example), and the cost for printing. The cost will allow us to continue to replace the filament. It won't be a money-maker for the library, but we don't want it to stop us from being able to buy books with our regular funding either!

Yesterday we finally were ready to put it to the test...and started with a captain's wheel fidget spinner that will be the fundraiser item for the TSA (Technology Student Association). At first, there were issues. We couldn't get anything to print...we cancelled the print and started over. Still nothing. It was a very frustrating situation.

Finally I took apart the filament cartridge, following steps for reloading it I found on a youTube video, and discovered a kink in the filament that was preventing it from going through the cartridge! Voila! Problem solved and by the second half of the day, we had three fidget spinners printed.

Monday, March 27, 2017

It's So Tweet!

The Library Scavenger Hunt is on, and it's so tweet (-able)!

This week, in advance of our Spring Reading Marathon, teachers, staff, and students are invited to tweet pictures to enter the hunt. (#Agree2Read) Just tweet four of the five pics below to enter and register in the library!

  1. Selfie with your favorite book 
  2. Selfie with an award-winning book in the library (hint: use the catalog and change the search for awards from unlimited to an award...the Newbery is always a good choice, but not the only choice!)
  3. Catch a teacher reading (and it doesn't have to be a book...teachers, this cannot be a selfie!)
  4. Picture of a teacher with their favorite book or holding a sign with the title of their favorite book (once again teachers, not a selfie!)
  5. Selfie in the library with Captain Corinth (who is not the school mascot nor a staff have to figure this one out but it's worth an extra entry if you succeed in getting 4 of the 5 pics!)
Remember to use the hashtag and to tag @CHHSPirates. Happy hunting!