Month: February 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading? 2/11/13

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It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!

Be sure to stop by Teach Mentor Texts for a list of participating bloggers and even more great reading ideas from Jen and Kellee.

Read more:

Books I read:

Amazon speedily delivered the following award-winners for 2012 to my home for my son and I to enjoy together:

Austin’s lovely, reaching live oaks provided a peaceful and tranquil canopy as I enjoyed the new memoir, Just Keep Breathing by Joan Scott Curtis.  I’m glad I bought two extra copies, because this is a  pass-it-on read.  

Books I’m reading:

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (audiobook from…there are moments listening to this book when I am in awe at the author’s style and use of language.  I don’t know if this will be an audiobook purchase for the library, however.  The text employs strikeouts to convey narrator’s thought process, which is relayed through an annoying pen scratch sound in the audiobook.  And, the narrator sounds too young and girl-y for my interpretation of Juliet.  The story is fascinating;  think Rogue from X-Men meets Juliet Capulet. 

Bomb: The Race to Build–And Steal–The world’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (audiobook from  I’m really enjoying the vocal talents of this narrator as he captures the international personas of scientists who sought to steal from one another to be the first to create the atom bomb.  There are numerous threads that run through this spy-espionage-historical-nonfiction thriller.  Some readers might prefer the print version so that they can re-visit passages.  The audiobook is working well for me especially with all of the European and Eastern European names that I would have no clue how to pronounce for myself. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot…ahhhh, HeLa.  I’m still making my way through this fascinating read.  Nonfiction is most definitely my book gap for a reason.  My fluency slows down and my stamina while reading it.  Whereas I am perfectly content to read an entire novel in the course of a lazy afternoon, my mind just doesn’t want to commit to long reading bursts of nonfiction, no matter how interesting the subject or eloquent the writing. 

Books to read:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake still scares me.  I think I’m still recovering Libba Bray’s The Diviners, but I have promised a pair of my most loyal patrons that I will read it! (But only in daylight.)

In Darkness by Nick Lake (Printz Award winner next up in my Audible queue). I’m not exactly thrilled about this one.  I’ve been admiring the cover all year, but the synopsis just hasn’t compelled me.  I think I’ll spend a little quiet time with this one today at the circulation desk once lunchtime madness winds down. 

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver…is still sitting on my nightstand, winking at me.  This week I learned that the first installment Delirium has been optioned for a Fox television series with Emma Roberts!  

What are your reading plans for this week?

The "True" Wave of Digital Natives

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Today in a session with Project Tomorrow’s CEO, Julie Evans, we were treated with a sneak peak at some of the data trends from the last Speak Up survey administered this past December (2012).

Now, data and I have had a rocky, tumultuous relationship.  In my early teaching years, data and I weren’t too familiar with one another–passing ships in the night.  As a graduate student, I started to flirt with data a little bit once I caught a glimpse of what he could do for me and some of the practices I was researching in my classroom. But, we hit a major roadblock in our relationship the year that data was wielded like a thick, leather belt, snapping and cracking down the hallway, forcing data-driven instruction down our throats, angrily pushing us towards practices that  did not align with our beliefs and better intuition.  Data and I broke up that year, and I admit I talked trash about data behind his back.

There was no magic moment when data came back into my life and the past was erased.  It took a lot of coaching and mentoring from leaders, friends, and mentors who had healthy, constructive relationships with data.  Today, we’re cohabitants of the same house, focused on the improvement of learning for everyone on our campus; we relate easily, flexibly, and without judgment.

So, today when Julie announced she was giving us a preview of the yet-to-be released data, my nerdy heart skipped a beat.  Our campus participated in the Speak Up survey–a difficult task in a campus of 2200 students.  Individual campus and district results will be made available tomorrow, 2/6.  I appreciate having the national trends to compare our local results to and anticipate that we’ll fall in line with those trends.

Three Key Trends for Educational Technology
1) Students want devices that allow them to personalize the educational process, the same way that they personalize their social media and web presence.  They want devices that help them be more productive and allow them to CREATE and ADAPT.

2)  We’re at a BYOD/BYOT tipping point.  The stage is set for integrating personal devices into learning.  Administration has turned a corner with its willingness to allow personal devices, teachers are curious, and students are willing and able.  How can we take advantage of the growing momentum and be thoughtful, reflective and strategic in our visions and action plans?

3)  The “true” digital natives haven’t even arrived yet on our high school campuses.  According to the findings of Speak Up’s yearly survey assessing the rolling of technology in learning, a shift has occurred in the readiness, access, and skills our 9-12th graders bring to the digital table and their middle school counterparts.  They are coming to us very soon; how will we prepare for tomorrow’s learners?

Wow!  I’m excited.  I’m ready.  I’m curious.

Now what?

What are you reading (listening to) Monday? 2/4/2013

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You know how the saying goes, “the best laid plans…” and all of that. Last week I had a wonderful reading plan, and then something monumental happened; I discovered that the Season Pass for Downton Abbey allows you to download the remaining episodes for season 3.  Whoops.  Needless to say my TBR pile only grew this past week, especially following the YMA announcements. 
But here’s my report:
Books I Read:
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.  2013 NEWBERY AWARD winner that is as much a kid-pleaser as an award-commitee pleaser.  Since reading it Monday night, I’ve had several discussions with librarians and teachers about its content.  We feel that this is definitely a read-aloud or read-along book for upper-elementary to middle grade students due to the obvious issues relating to animal ruelty and abuse.  But, we made it through the heart-breaking pages to a beautiful conclusion that is both real and magical.
ummm…yah, that’s all I finished.
Books I’m Reading:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  I’m on my second week with this book, not because I don’t really enjoy it and find it fascinating, but because–once again–my obsession with period drama t.v.  I finally feel cool when talking to my science-y friends.  I’m like, “so, He-La. Those are some crazy cells, right?”  Henrietta Lacks reads like a novel that weaves together the narratives of multiple Lacks generations and a science-fiction thriller. 
yah.  that’s it.
Books to read:
Here’s where I get really excited!  A dear friend and colleague published her first book for adults this past week and I have a copy tucked away in my bag to read in the hotel while away at a conference this week.  Just Keep Breathing by Joan Curtis is a memoir chronicling Joan’s life following the death of her husband Dennis.  Knowing the background of this book and witnessing her journey writing the book over the past seven years that I’ve known her, I believe that it will be one of the greatest reading experiences of my life.  I don’t say that lightly.  Even though I never knew Dennis, anyone who knows Joan and hears her talk or reads her writing feels like they know Dennis;  her love for him is that powerful.
For the road-trip to Austin for my conference, here’s my Audible listening TBR stack (inspired by last week’s award announcement and one book that I’ve been promising my students I would read):
Happy reading!
Be sure to visit Teach Mentor Texts for a list of participating bloggers for #IMWAYR!