Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Fall by James Preller

The Fall by James Preller.  2015, Fiewel and Friends

There is one less person that will attend school in the fall, and it is noticed by everyone.  Funny thing was, she wasn't noticed at all, until...

Morgan was an unassuming girl, but Sam knew who she was.  An accidental meeting led Sam to "accidentally" meet Morgan again and again.  Eventually, their friendship grew.  But Morgan knew something was wrong.  Sam didn't want to be seen in public with her, even avoiding his friends so they couldn't be seen.  But why?

And when Morgan finds out the truth, she decides the better option is not to be a part of it..or any part of life...and when the school finds out about the incident, the reaction is different.  Some are upset this could happen.  But then there are others who make sure that what they did is kept secret - from teachers, counselors, parents - everyone.

This affects Sam most, who was one of the last ones to post on her social media.  He has to look in the mirror everyone knowing he was a part of the tragedy.  He is also one who is full of the "what ifs" as well as trying to keep this dark ugly secret from surfacing.  And he knows what could happen to him if he decides to tell someone.

To Morgan, there seemed to be no alternative to the bullying that was happening everyday, in and out of school.  To Sam, there is an after alternative that could break him and lead him down the same path Morgan was trapped in.  What to do?  What to do....

This is a book about a teen who has to come to terms with choosing to be popular over choosing to do the right thing.  To cope with his grief, the readers get to see how his life has changed in real time, but most importantly, how his life has changed emotionally through his journal.

Powerful, impactful, recommended for readers who delve into this genre. 7-12

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu.  2016, Roaring Brook Press

Small towns are places where people know each other and neighbors are everyone.  It's a place where people will recognize an unusual car.  They watch out for other people's kids as well as their own, and help create that small town feel that just feels right....

But one day, four years ago, Ethan was taken while riding a bike.  But when another boy goes missing from the same town, it is a pattern, not chance.  Thankfully, both boys are found and returned home but the aftermath is difficult.

Ethan is now fourteen years old.  He's missed out on life and has to deal with PTSD as well as behavioral and relational issues.  His mother hovers and he doesn't want to talk to his therapist about what happened.  Instead, he copes through blocking out what happened.  But then he meets Caroline. Her little brother was the other kid help captive but he can't talk to anyone because of his autism.

While Ethan has the means to go to therapy, Caroline's family doesn't, and the best way to deal with it is to pretend it never happened.  Her brother's life is unraveling, and Caroline is desparate to help.

She wants to know what happens, Ethan wants to forget it.  Together they begin down a path of friendship that allows for cathartic release, which both of them really need.

Powerful book from start to finish.  Two lives unfolding right in front of the readers' eyes allows for a wider perspective, but Caroline's and Ethan's friendship in the novel create another different perspective all of its own.  It's not only about victims, but about families too.  Highly recommended 7-12

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Observations of a Librarian in the 21st Century

Wow...can't believe we are already sixteen (nearly seventeen) years into the 21st century!  Do you remember saying something in high school like, "When it's 2015 I'll be (fill in the blank) years old!" Education is changing to adapt, and so is the pedagogy.  And it's all because society and culture impact teens today so much more differently than ever before.  With that in mind, I came up with some things I believe a 21st century library should be aware of.

1. Teens are connected, and so are adults

Walk down any hall of a high school and you'll see cell phones, laptops, tablets, and headphones galore! Make sure libraries are connected as well.  This is now the standard norm, so libraries should not only be book driven, but device and peripheral driven too. 

2. Learning is done more through video than ever before

Youtube, TedTalks, MOOCs...watching and learning are more accepted than ever before.  When most new web tools have intro videos, take advantage of it.  Create screencasts to "teach" students.  Being visible is now done in front a camera and libraries should put themselves in the spotlight.

3. Reading preferences guide people and libraries.

Some like e-books, some like hardcopy.  Paperbacks, hard copy, newspapers, magazines.  Kindle, Nook, Overdrive, Follett, Netgalley, Edelweiss, and sites for fan fiction are diverse, but they have one thing in common - people who read use them for pleasure, and academic pursuits.  And it make libraries re-think the concept of shelf space.

4. The virtual world is a lot larger than the physical one.

 We don't live in a world where teens get home, eat a snack and do their homework.  It's now more like get home, eat something, binge watch Neflix, check Snapchat or Twitter, then do midnight...or later.  Make sure the library can meet them there.  Create an online presence ASAP!

5. Handwriting is old school.  Keep that in mind when you're creating signage

There are actually teens out there who only know how to write their name in cursive because of documents.  Sigh.... And if that's the case, you know they can't read it.  So make sure that if the library has displays, signage, or posters, that they use a font that to reach all users. Be cursive aware!

6. Social Media is the new telephone


Personal landlines are passe.  Teens today may not understand how a pay phone works, much less a party line.  They communicate en masse with social media.  And when they "talk" to each other it's through text.  Calling someone? That's ancient! Leverage these for the library so teens can communicate their way, making the library easier to access.

7. There is significant relationship building happening online.

 Just when you thought you knew it all, catfishing for teens has taken on a completely new meaning.  Relationships of all kinds begin online and then can become face-to-face.  From using Remind for classes or Groupme for people with similar interests, there are ways libraries can create an online academic relationship with students.

8. Teens have an entrepreneurial spirit.

 Interesting fact: the founders of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat's average age is TWENTY-TWO.  Don't underestimate the genius of teens.  They are changing our future.  Heck they even created a new language adults had to learn - emoji, which began in the late 1990's and now has over 800 characters used in countless devices.

9. Teaching is not about lecture, but a participatory culture

It's one thing to talk to teens, but it completely morphs when teens talk, create, and group together to learn.  Make the library that place where teens are learning in all sorts of ways.  If we are worried about their interaction with people because of their obsession with devices, participatory culture MUST happen. 

10. Libraries should not just have books....they should have a whole lot more


And I'm not talking about computers (although that would be nice!) Think about things that could be checked out to patrons that are out of the norm.  How about gardening tools?  Anyone love to bake? Crafters could always use knitting needs and crochet hooks.  Sports equipment doesn't always have to belong in the gym and budding artists can save money by checking out brushes. JACKPOT!

Friday, December 2, 2016

'Twas the Night Before Techmas 2016 edition

For the past two years, I've created an infographic showing some great webtools for the classroom. So, if you have time and want to try out new tools, try these!  Click on the icons to take you to the sites listed.
And if you missed the last two here are the links:
Techmas 2014 edition           Techmas 2015 edition