Friday, April 25, 2008

Marked, Betrayed and Chosen

I have spent the last few days reading the first three in a series that will be six books upon completion. P. C. Cast and her daughter Kristin Cast have written some real page-turners. The basic idea for the books was to write about a vampire finishing school.

Marked begins with Zoey Redbird becoming marked which indicates that, if she survives the transition, will become an adult vampire. All marked teenagers have to attend the House of Night which is essentially a boarding school for those who might be vampires some day. Zoey is eager to fit in and find her place at the school. It is filled with all sorts of adventures.

Betrayed and Chosen follow Zoey's further adventures at the House of Night. This series should appeal to older teens, especially the girls who love Lynne Ewing's books.

I know that I have my calendar marked for this fall when the fourth book in the series, Untamed, will come out.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Quiet Reading Day

I've never known any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage.
--Charles De Secondat (1689 - 1755)

This foggy, rainy Saturday seems particularly well suited to be a reading day. I have been catching up on my blogs and just stumbled on the quote above. I'm not sure that it is completely true but I have found that a quiet reading hour can often help you cope with some of the "trouble" that can come around.

Today I'm reading Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George. Thus far I am finding it a fascinating retelling of some Norse myths with a likeable and sympathetic young female narrator. I'm only beginning chapter 12 but am eager to read on. I think this will appeal to some of the girls in my Media Center who are reading books by Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine. I know that George's book Dragon Slippers had found an audience. I'm sure that this one will too.

I was glad yesterday to discover a couple of new sources for inexpensive books. One of our English teachers attended a workshop on young adult literature and brought the manual back to the Media Center for us to use. The sites were listed in the manual. I put in an order at Book for a few books that sounded good. I also looked around at Book Depot but had already spent today's money at Book CloseOuts. Later last evening I got an email saying that my books had already shipped. Now we will see how long it takes them to arrive! I'm more than a little spoiled. I am an Amazon Prime customer and am used to receiving books about 3 days after I order them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What Punctuation Mark Are You?

In an effort to avoid meaningful (but not very interesting) work, I have been reading blogs. One led me to this survey. You know, somehow, I had never wondered what punctuation mark I was. However, now I know. And somehow it seems appropriate.

You Are a Question Mark

You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible. You love learning.

And while you know a lot, you don't act like a know it all. You're open to learning you're wrong.

You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data, and always dig deep to find out more.

You're naturally curious and inquisitive. You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.

Your friends see you as interesting, insightful, and thought provoking.

(But they're not always up for the intense inquisitions that you love!)

You excel in: Higher education

You get along best with: The Comma

Try it out and see what kind of punctuation you are.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hubbs Children's Literature Conference

I recently attended the Hubbs Children's Literature Conference (end of February) and had a chance to have my picture taken with Jane Yolen and her son Adam Stemple. I came back with autographed books that I donated to our HS Media Center (as I forgot to bring along any of my own books by these authors). Today I finally downloaded the pictures from my camera and chose this shot. I was there all day and only took 13 pictures that I weeded down to five. I need to remember that I have a camera and I need to remember to use it.

I am getting ready to head off to Spotlight on Books near Grand Rapids next weekend. I have cleared the old pictures off the camera, charged the batteries, and am ready to try again. Jim Trelease, DJ McHale, Janet Stevens and Mary Casanova will be there. I hope to get at least one good picture of each of them (and some of Rutger's Sugar Lake Resort). Although resorts in April in Minnesota are not looking their best. I doubt that the ice will be off the lake yet. It should be a good conference. I hope to come back with good ideas and autographed books.

I have audiobooks to listen to on the way to and from the conference. Mapquest says that it is a 5 hour drive to get there. I got a new David Weber and I think that I read that there are 35 disks (and I thought that the last Harry Potter at 17 disks was long!)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Night Thoughts

Just a quick book recommendation for you. I recently read and enjoyed Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude. It would fit in if you are talking about fairy tales, girls books vs. boy books, or writing. Besides which it's funny.

Today was the end of the 3rd quarter at school. It is hard to believe that 3/4 of this year is already gone. I still have so much that I want to teach my kids. And I know that a substantial part of April will be devoted to testing them for the school and the State. Then come those field trips and programs and lots of other things to disrupt the day to day schedule. Oh, well. I'm sure that everything will fit in as it has in the past.

It seems strange to be looking ahead to set the date when all the books are due. (I still try to get them all back so that I can do an inventory before we send the books out again for summer checkout.) It's also time to start thinking about a summer reading program for my high school (well, mainly junior high school students). Luckily, my co-worker usually has a handle on that as I am not even in town for the summer. Once school lets out I migrate north to spend time with family, read, and relax. Summers "off" are one of the perks of being a school media specialist.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Teaching PowerPoint to 5th Graders

As a part of their Library/Media Skills instruction, fifth graders are learning how to do PowerPoint presentations. Each student is researching the life and work of a scientist and preparing a PowerPoint to illustrate their report about the scientist. I am trying to emphasize that a PowerPoint doesn't stand alone but is a visual aid to enhance their presentation.

We have made sample PowerPoints to learn the basic skills (like adding a slide, doing slide transitions, inserting clip art, and moving and resizing pictures and text). We have done the research (using ELM databases) to find out about each scientist. We have taken notes to answer questions about our scientists. Now we need to turn our notes into an effective and attractive PowerPoint.

Over the years I have seen many unfortunate examples of terrifically bad PowerPoints. Clearly, I am not alone. Check out this site to see Joyce Valenza's examples. I liked the garage-band enhanced version of the PowerPoint. I'm not expecting that sort of quality but I'm hoping not to see orange text on a green backgound or text that is completely unreadable because the backgound picture chosen by the student is so busy that no color font would successfully stand out from the background.

Wish me luck!