Friday, November 17, 2017

Poetry Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the Storybird Mood Poetry Contest!!  These students have their poems published in our HMS Destiny system.  Just look up their names as authors to be able to see their awesome poems! 

First place - Avery Strube and Brett Frasier - "It's Not OK"
Second place - Kendra Burton and Ella Campbell - "Always"
Third place - Daria Tolman - "Poetry's Perspective"

Friday, November 3, 2017

Creating Mood with Storybird

7th grade students spent Halloween day rotating to stations previewing a bit of poetry for their upcoming unit.  The challenge was to pick a picture from the available artwork and create a poem that reflected the mood of that picture.

The following poems were some of the best I saw submitted that day.  Now it's up to you to vote on your favorite!  Which poem do YOU think best showcases the feeling of the artwork that they chose?  Look through the pictures and then vote using THIS LINK.

























Wednesday, October 25, 2017

How Many Have You Read?

Here is the window outside of the library right now.  

As you can see, I read a lot.  I even get up an hour early every morning so that I have time to read before school starts!  Otherwise, I would  never get time!  So, I've made a space in the library for you to see what I've read recently.  I won't be able to write a review on every book I read, but here are a few standouts from the books on the window.

Historical Fiction
 Three different stories of refugees - escaping Germany during WWII, escaping Cuba in 1994, and escaping Syria in 2015.  All three stories don't SEEM to have any connections, but wait for it!  I thought it was going to be typical stories from each part of history, but I was wrong.  Really liked this one!

Realistic Fiction
If you liked We Were Liars and the twisty-turny way that one worked out, you will love this mystery told backwards.  Yes, you read that right.  We start at the end of the story and work our way backwards to how it all began.  Don't worry.  It isn't as confusing as it sounds!

Kind of a Mean Girls meets Sam and Dean from Supernatural.  Her ancestors were responsible for all of the Salem Witch Trial murders, and now she is at a school in Salem with the ancestors of all the girls who were murdered.  And then there's a ghost.  And then there's a curse.  And then there's a race to end the curse before the ghost and the girls all die.... for good!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mayday by Karen Harrington

Realistic Fiction

This book was recommended to me by the great and powerful Larose Mutumbo! I can see why she liked it. And I did too. Finally. At the end. That doesn't mean it wasn't great. I just found it to be a bit sad. Don't get me wrong. I love sad books. But with this one it seemed like nothing would go right for Wayne. However, I found myself crying through the end this morning over my eggs and bacon. So, thanks, Larose. Thanks for the recommendation. And thanks for making me cry. :)

Battle of the Books!!

KISD middle schools are finally participating in Battle of the Books!  Look through this flyer for more information.  And come get the parent permision form from me soon!  First meeting is October 2nd, after school, in the library.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Twisted Tech - Flipgrid

The HMS Tech Badging Canvas page has so many cool tech ideas, and I wanted to find a way to tell you about them.  But this is a tech lesson with a twist because the tech I want to share with you could also be used with a fun AVID strategy in your classroom!

Flipgrid is really cool selfie video site/app.  You post a topic and it opens a grid where kids can click and post a selfie video responding to your topic.  Every student can see what was posted by all the kids, and the only way they can respond to the videos is by clicking a reaction button with a heart or a smiley face or whatever.  This can be done on their phones with the app, or students can use the Chromebook cameras to record their videos.

I can see this being a really cool way to incorporate a virtual Four Corners AVID strategy.  Students can read a piece of text or you can give them a specific topic to consider and then post a Flipgrid for what each of the four corners would be.

For instance, you might have the kids read a current event article about Hurricane Harvey.  Your four grids could be 1)Drive to Houston and help  2)Donate money to Red Cross  3)Organize a drive for people to donate items  4)Work with the shelters here in DFW with the evacuees.  You would tell the kids that their selfie videos must include specific reasons why they think their choice is the best option for helping the victims of the hurricane.

I think this would make an excellent homework assignment because it would all be on the site the next day and students can then respond to each other's videos either in a class discussion or as a written assignment.

So give it a shot!  I also have a Flipgrid out there and I would love to have your videos in there so that I can share them with students during my next book lesson with the kids.  The topic is:  Tell your favorite memory about reading from when you were a teenager.  Just go to the website or download the app and put in this code to respond to my Flipgrid - f74180.

And here is a whole Flipgrid of middle school teachers talking about how they use the cool tool in all subjects -

Friday, August 25, 2017

Book Review - Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

It's been a LOOOONNGGG week with all of the orientation lessons that I've been doing with 7th grade!  But I can tell it's going to be a great year!  An interesting side note to the week is that most of the 7th grade tends to lean towards the fantasy genre.  This is quite different than in the past.  Science fiction was always the genre where most kids would shop.  And now those books just seem to be very lonely on their shelves with no one going to visit them.  :)  Look like I'm going to have to make sure and keep up with more fantasy books!

Realistic Fiction
I recently finished a pretty great book called Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer.  Of all the books I have read the last couple of months, I would have to say this is the best!  I really liked the idea of the characters leaving letters to each other to get to know each other, but the best part of that whole idea is that both characters felt like they could be their "real" selves through those letters.  It makes me sad to see that teenagers today think they have to act a certain way according to the norms that were set for themselves at school.  In this book, both main characters use photography as a way of showing that what we see in a snapshot might not always be exactly what we think it is.  Just like in life, one bad decision doesn't make us into a person who would always make that bad decision again and again.  Kemmerer uses several of her characters to show that sometimes we only show the world what we think they want to see instead of showing who we really are.  And what we really are is pretty great.  I like that message for teens today.  Go read this book!  Come talk to me when you're done.  I loved it!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Another Year Begins!

Welcome to 2017 - 2018 at HMS!  I can't wait to start blogging again about life in the library.  I'll be trying to update this blog at least once a week.  Hopefully, it will be worth your time to visit here once in a while.  In the meantime, here are some picture highlights of our first week at HMS!
And the doors open for the first day!

Fun at PHIS!
Even the rain can't make us stop having fun!

Welcome to Akhandata!

Tired teachers!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

March Madness Round 3

We're down to eight books!  Go vote using the link

Smile vs Wonder - both of these books beat their competitors by a landslide.  Sorry Between Shades of Gray and Red Queen.  Looks like sweetness and normalcy ruled the day.

Legend vs. Lightning Thief - Two more huge victories here!

Maze Runner vs. Girl Stolen - While Maze Runner easily beat If I Stay, Girl Stolen barely edged out I Funny.

Drama vs. Hunger Games - I'm thinking that the disappointing ending to Divergent made most kids so made they voted for Hunger Games more.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March Madness Round Two

Round One winners brought with them a couple of surprises.  It looks like we still have everyone's favorite historical fiction novel, Between Shades of Gray, in our contest.  Three graphic novels, Smile, Drama, and the Maximum Ride Manga books, progressed to the next level.  And, of course, we have plenty of dystopian fiction moving on as well.  Here is a list of all the winners and who they are up against for round two.

Between Shades of Gray vs. Smile
Red Queen vs. Wonder
Maximum Ride Manga vs. Legend
Lightning Thief vs. Pulse
Maze Runner vs. If I Stay
Girl Stolen vs. I, Funny
Drama vs. Underdogs
Divergent vs. Hunger Games

You can vote for round two by going to

Monday, March 20, 2017

March (Library) Madness 2017

It's back!  Those silly basketball players don't even know how much I look forward to their tournament because it means that it's also time for our book tournament!  So here's how the books stacked up.  The top 32 most checked out books in the library are listed above in the order in which they will enter our tournament.  If you want to go straight to the page and start voting, then click here!  You can see their book covers on the voting pages.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Dreamland Burning is a fascinating story about the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. This was a precarious time in our past when the KKK was starting to rear its ugly head.  It is paired with a modern day story of what racism looks like in our world today.  We learn of Will, in 1921, who is the son of an Osage Indian woman and a white man who likely married her because of her wealth from the oil discovered in Indian lands in which she had part ownership.  We also get to know Rowan, who lives today, who is the daughter of a black woman and a white man.  Both characters have to make tough decisions about how to do the right thing in the face of a world that doesn't always agree with who they are.

I loved the mystery in this book.  As the details of the skeleton found under the floor in part of Rowan's house are discovered, we are constantly flipped back into 1921 to try and piece out all of the details.  The clues that we are given in Rowan's time are just enough for us to think we know what is going to happen to Will in 1921.  But Latham does a fanstastic job of keeping us guessing until the very end when we discover exactly who that skeleton belongs to and how that person really died.    

I love learning about American history.  I especially love learning about parts of our country's history that are not commonly known or understood.  For instance, when I ask students what they know about Japanese internment camps during WWII, most of them just stare right through me.  It always floors me that in 5th and 8th grade, when students are supposed to learn American history, the parts of WWII that are taught the most are Pearl Harbor and all of the atrocities that took place in Europe.  American racism isn't something that textbooks and teachers like to talk about.  But there is a quote in this book that really made me think.  

"I understand now that history only moves forward in a straight line when we learn from it.  Otherwise it loops past the same mistakes over and over again." -- Rowan, Dreamland Burning

I feel like we have been looping past the same mistakes for some time now.  And it only seems to be getting worse.  That's the reason I work to find fiction that I can put in the hands of my students.  Reading a textbook and listening to a lecture isn't going to teach teenagers about some of these buried parts of our past.  But, hopefully, getting to know characters who have lived through it will somehow make a dent in the amount of history that is not being taught.  Maybe then we can straighten out that line and move forward.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

North Texas Teen Book Festival 2017

I love going to this book festival each year!  It seems to really have grown a lot since it began three years ago.  This year, I heard they expected about 10,000 teenagers in attendance!  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend on the day of the event since my son was in the regional meet for his awesome power-lifting ability!  But, they had a wonderful day just for educators on the day before the big day.  I got to see plenty of authors and talk to some that also attended YAK Fest, so it was a great day.  Here are my thoughts and observations from the day.

Ally Carter
Ally Carter
Ally Carter had some really great things to say.  She was on a panel with Elizabeth Eulberg, YAK Fest 2017), and they are obviously good friends.  Ally told the crowd that she does all of her writing at a Panera Bread by her home.  She just plugs in her earbuds and goes!! They even sent her a gift card when she tweeted about it one day.  Memorable story:  Ally saw a little girl in Panera one day who obviously had cancer.  She was wearing an Elsa dress and seemed so happy.  She thought to herself that sometimes you just need to wear an Elsa dress for the day to make yourself happy.  Her goal is to have her books be someone's Elsa dress.  She wants to make people happy with her books.

Angie Thomas
This is a new author.  Her name is Angie Thomas.  Remember that name, people.  She is going to be around for a while.  My favorite part of listening to her, besides listening to her read from her book (!!), was what she said about her favorite books from her childhood.  She loved Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry because she grew up in Mississippi and it really hit home with her.  She also loved the Harry Potter series and said she was always waiting for her letter to arrive so that she could attend Hogwarts.  In her words, "One book gave me a mirror, and the other book gave me a window."  Is that beautiful or what?? 

Here is a video of Angie Thomas reading from her debut book, The Hate U Give.

Ibi Zoboi27ef868543abf9c4e16439c1aeb8f0bd.jpg
Ibi Zoboi and Renee Watson have written two beautiful books that everyone should read.  These books discuss cultural issues that I know nothing about, but I can't wait to read them so I can learn.  After listening to them read from their books, I know that I will be looking for these to order for you very soon.  

Jason Reynolds
I can't say enough about this guy.  He has the most wonderful speaking voice and is so passionate about the topics he writes about - probably because many of them are reflective of what he has experienced in his past.  For instance, in the book The Boy in the Black Suit, he writes about a boy who keeps finding himself going to the funerals of his friends.  Jason told the audience that he had his first experience as a pall bearer at the age of 14.  He writes what he knows.  This includes using "his language" which was something he never saw in the books he was told to read growing up.  This is why he didn't read a whole novel until he was 17 years old!  I'm going to try and get him to come to YAK Fest in 2018.

Image result for laurie halse anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson
Who doesn't love Laurie Halse Anderson??  She is so down to earth and loves to talk about her books.  She told us that she wrote Speak because of a personal experience similar to what Melinda goes through in the book.  She wrote it for herself and never intended for it to published.  Laurie told us that it's a topic that isn't discussed enough and that she encourages teenagers to have the courage to talk about tough topics.  Her favorite series as a kid was the Nancy Drew books.  

Friday, February 3, 2017

YAK Fest 2017

YAK Fest 2017 was a huge success!  There were so many teens that were able to join us, and I think we had the highest attendance so far!  All of the authors were really excited and many of them have emailed me to say that they loved getting to know our Texas teens and were very impressed with them.  Below are a few memories from the day.

Here's my yearly author selfie backstage with everyone right before they walked out onstage for their introduction.  From the front of the picture moving backwards:  Lindsey Lane, Jonathan Maberry, Will Ritter, Brendan Reichs, Samantha Mabry, Elizabeth Eulberg, Kate Elliott, Jeff Zentner, Christian McKay Heidicker.  

Jeff Zentner gave a passionate keynote speech about empathy.  You can read his speech on his website by clicking here.  But he is only leaving it on his site for a limited time!

Jeff Zentner signing autographs.

Melanie Crowder with one of our HMS 7th graders. 

K.A. Holt 

Christian McKay Heidicker and his selfie pose.   

Lindsay Cummings 

Sasha Alsberg listening to one of her many followers. 

Lisa Schroeder 

Tim Tingle telling a story. 

Brendan Reichs 

Emmy Laybourne 

Elizabeth Eulberg 

Will Ritter 

April Henry 

Jonathan Maberry 

The Escape Hatch - one of our favorite parts of YAK Fest.  Hanging out with authors is the best! 

I'm already planning YAK 2018!  Let me know of the authors you really want to meet.  Maybe we can make it happen!  Happy Reading!