Friday, November 20, 2015


Tonight I'm grateful it's a break. Not for nine days! Hopefully then I'll be able to better rise above.

Because this little guy is growing on all of us. And plates are pretty cheap.

Thought about returning to paper planning. Ended up getting one off of Kickstarter but found this one soon after.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Finally Friday ... the 13th!?!?!?!

I mean, really, why? It should be a holiday. SLOOOOOOOW in the library. Like really slow after #makermornings (behaviour there was not at its high point there but hey, that was 11 hours ago, right? Who even remembers!) and morning announcements sans sound (I pulled it all down on my head yesterday and haven't figured out how to hook it back up correctly yet. I'm fine, just embarrassed! They had to rush into the PA to finish). Two stories/checkouts. Three class checkouts. And that's it. All sorts of district visitors all over campus, I suppose, could have been part of it. I don't like days like that. I felt ridiculous when they decided to hold one of their meetings with a grade level in the library. Couldn't relax and just enjoy the quiet to get caught up. Just felt appalled they were now going to think we sat in the library and twiddled our thumbs all day. Tell me they didn't even notice, right? Too busy in their own world?

Has anyone ever figured out something the library can help offer teachers that are overwhelmed? All lesson ideas I come up with don't seem to alleviate anything. There is sugar coming out of our ears in the staff lounge (so chocolate is out, even if I could offer it without eating it myself!) already. Just puts them on a sugar high and then LOW.

I am excited about a flat screen tv we are getting to put in the hall. It's ordered and on its way. The ONLY downside to the walls we got last summer was the loss of visibility so this will be like a little electronic window into the library. Trying to remember to take pics. That is hard during the school day! Anyway, pics of our lessons, pics of book covers they might want to come in for (or just go to Overdrive for), completed tech projects, screenshots of relevant database articles, and examples of projects we might do.

Pins below as I've gone on long enough. Have a great weekend.

Simple idea. Brilliant!

Ooh, a favorite color combo.

I want! You may not but I do!

I do love the idea. Started out so well with the concept and then cooled last year. So much else going on. Maybe I'll try again. I do know at school there's an Amazon box with a pair of Google Cardboard glasses in them. That I can't get at because the new bookkeeper hasn't started yet and the office staff won't let me have the box until she's "received" it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Recap Post on Randoms

Since there has not been a lot of interesting action around the library lately I thought I would specifically highlight a book again that I read this summer and really loved.

Yes, it is science fiction. Though it is not, in fact, a Star Wars book!

Here's the Goodreads blurb.

A science fiction superfan finds himself on his very own space adventure when he’s randomly selected to join an alien confederacy in this hilarious middle grade debut novel.

Zeke Reynolds comes from a long line of proud science fiction geeks. He knows his games, comics, movies, and TV shows like Captain Kirk knows the starship Enterprise. So it’s a dream come true when he learns the science fiction he loves so much is based on reality—and that he’s been selected to spend a year on a massive space station. To evaluate humanity’s worthiness, the Confederation of United Planets has hand picked three of Earth’s most talented young people—and then there’s Zeke. He’s the random.

Unfortunately, Zeke finds life in space more challenging than he’d hoped. When he saves his transport ship from a treacherous enemy attack, he’s labeled a war criminal. Now despised by the Confederation, rejected by his fellow humans, and pursued by a ruthless enemy, Zeke befriends the alien randoms: rejected by their own species, but loyal to each other. But their presence in the Confederation may not be so random after all, and as the danger increases, Zack’s knowledge of science fiction might be the only thing that can save himself, his friends, and Earth itself.

RandomsRandoms by David Liss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Probably the most geeky sci-fi book of ... just about any book I've ever read. Maybe even a four and a half. Four and three quarters?

Name a geekdom? It's probably mentioned. Bonus points for lots of Star Wars. Also Star Trek and Dr. Who. Those I recognized. After poking around I discovered there might be even more comic book references. I'm not up on my comics.
The characters. Each most definitely adds something different to the story. Humor. Strength. Compassion. Wit. Sarcasm.
The visual movie I played in my head. Weird (see the second quote) but fun!

A little on the long side. More than a little on the long side. I loved the detail but it will derail less involved readers.
Would someone who didn't already care about at least one of the geekdoms really "get" this book? It's hard for me to imagine since I most definitely do care about the geeky references contained therein.

Definite possibility for a middle school collection. The content so much didn't give me pause (there is some violence of the space battle kind, and just a bit of inter-species junior high romance) as the length. Would need to be a strong fifth grade reader to finish.

A few quotes from my advanced copy. Since it was on my Kindle I don't have proper page numbers.

[re dealing with a school bully] "In my defense, he had been standing in the part of the hallway where I was heading, and I like to look where I'm going, but still. I understood his point." (location 64)

"a giraffe in a business suit had entered the room" (location 308)

"What about the Force and Jedi powers? Are they real?" (location 365)

"Her eyes had a sadness in them, as though she had seen things in her travels she wished she could forget." (location 767)

"The word 'awesome' gets overused a lot--I, myself, have on occasion been a serious abuser--but this was awesome in the truest sense." (location 1169)

"We couldn't control what people thought of us. We could only change those things that were in our power." (location 3338)

And my favorite? "It's an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. This is a light saber." (location 4391)

I am a total idiot and tweeted then emailed the author, especially when I found out he was local. He was super nice about it. If I could have thought of some decent questions I'd have asked him for an blog interview! I never know what to say to authors beyond "I really liked your book." Duh.

I forgot the third Lockwood & Co on Monday's #IMWAYR. Which is crazy because I loved listening to it. More on that later.

Monday, November 9, 2015

#IMWAYR Nov. 9 and Last Call for #VoyagersHQ Giveaway

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!
Our Kid Lit to YA version is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

Really only finished one book this week. And it wasn't great (three is generous WITH the fun photographs factored in at like a five ... the text just does not work in a book! At least IMHO.)

Happy!Happy! by Pharrell Williams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

But I've started several others (kid lit Fires of Invention, grown up lit The Angel Court Affair). And still (obviously not very quickly) working on the professional ones.

I also wanted to remind you that the Voyagers giveaway is open for a few more hours!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Simply Saturday Fave Pins and the Week in Recap

South Texas. It goes from stinking hot and a drought of months to raging flash floods to colder than I felt in London. Crazy.

It's November!

I'd love to tell you about some awesome lessons the past week. It's getting harder and harder to convince anyone to do something. More than a couple stood me up for ideas we did have. I missed an "organizational health index" survey on Monday because of a library meeting. People are so unhappy and so stressed. I wish I knew better how to help. I'm not dealing with the frustration level very well myself.

In kinder we read I Really Like Slop! and checked out from the shelves for the first time (up to now we put books out on a table). Actually some of the calmest first shelf checkouts ever. Some years they've looked like a bomb went off when they were done. Of course the assistant was around more than he normally would be as his tutoring responsibilities were cancelled two days because of early dismissal.

(Side note ... but we can't cancel tutoring on ONE DAY for ten minutes for one grade and thirty for another for an author visit that the publisher is paying for? When last year the office allowed a choir field trip to be scheduled over an author visit that the library paid for because the school pulled the $500 they were going to contribute at the last minute?)

And with a couple first grade classes, anyway, we used Pebble Go to practice some simple reading for info and notetaking on Wild Turkeys. Due to dumb luck my part time assistant knew of a kit from our Regional Service center that was in the science lab. That foot was gross.

I did get phase two of my library transformation plan (basic gist ... what do we want to see in five years and how do we get there?) 95% done. I like to obsess and tweak over things. It felt weird even "dreaming big" again after the walls were such a surprise. Less bulky furniture, fewer tables, a LEGO wall, $ for books and tech and making. Good for the kids. Even in all the ARGH this week I looked around one morning at kids busy and thought "Yes, I wish I didn't have to get up so early and drive so far to get here. But these kids are having fun and working together and wow, that is a pretty good way to start the day."

One day I spent a good amount of time messing around with the 3D printer. I now feel I have a ... basic knowledge. Petrified to try teaching kids how to do it, yes. I'm hoping that they catch on faster than I did because of experience in Minecraft. Kind of makes me feel seasick.

Click through for original sources. Amazed you made it this far down the post!


Possible bit of spoiler here. And just for the record she is doing quite well on her own. Though having a brother around is always a good thing.

I should add this to the half done electronic resources board in the library. It's really hard to get stuff like that done when people need things every few minutes. Which is what we do, right? Postpone "our" agendas for the needs of the patrons?

I ordered a couple Google Cardboard kits but I'm now thinking our iTouches are too old to even work.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway! The books really were fun.

On a total side note ... the TPT conference is in Orlando. it's actually tempting because Harry Potter would be SO CLOSE! Not that I ever plan on that part of my online world becoming huge. But some social media knowhow and digital design tips could also spill over into other parts of my life. So when I saw that email it sounded kind of fun there for a sec.

I guess at some point if I'm going to rant I should point out I blog as ME and not as a representative of my school or district.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Currently November

Linking up with Farley. Are you of the ilk that will sing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!" with me? Too soon?

Dumb TV. Pre DVR I got a lot more done. 
Star Wars things everywhere! Everyone tags me. The latest posted to my FB timeline was a Death Star waffle iron.
I missed my workout class today. School meeting went too long and was too far away. :( Exercise is not fun but you feel so much better when you do it. The Star Wars 5K that was supposed to happen in early Dec. got cancelled.
It seems like lately at school I am spending more and more time doing uninteresting stuff like "go and check computers that everyone has downloaded the announcement software." Instructions have been emailed out TEN times. Teachers are not children and they are modern professionals. So few interesting projects yet this year. Teachers are so overwhelmed they hardly pay attention ... and it's hard to plan anything completely independently. Too many times I tried and then it wasn't what they needed or I couldn't get them even to come and I wasted all the planning time.
Mess everywhere! Still! A staycation, really, after my vacation. I know. Could I sound more self centered? I got a vacation! An amazing one!
Having eaten a few today ... I <3. I'd say with oatmeal, hey, healthy ... but also sugar and butter.

#IMWAYR Nov. 2 #VoyagersHQ giveaway! #ad

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!
Our Kid Lit to YA version is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

The last couple weeks I had the fun opportunity to read the first two books in the Voyagers series. If your upper middle grade readers (strong 4th through early 7th) love action and adventure they will love these books. The young characters (12 years old) show bravery and strength when faced with the charge of an inter-stellar voyage to gather an assortment of materials that will quite literally save the world. There are strong male and female characters. Book one is already out and book two releases this week! The list of contributing authors to the series is just awesome.

Would you like to win the first two books and a fun iPhone 6 case? Read on for more details and scroll down to the Rafflecopter and comment section to enter ...

The action is on the page, on your device, and out of this world! This multiplatform middle-grade series is fully locked and loaded and ready for launch, blasting off in Fall 2015.

Part sci-fi, part eco-mystery, all action-adventure.

As the young heroes in VOYAGERS journey into outer space to save planet Earth, readers are invited to become part of the story by joining the crew through the multi-platform, VOYAGERS HQ. The HQ extends the adventure beyond the page, unlocking games and activities on their devices.

Each book has clues and codes that lead to world extensions to be explored, played, and shared. Your online profile tracks your progress through the VOYAGERS universe, and gives you rewards, ranking and virtually currency for each product code redeemed.

Readers become part of the VOYAGERS world, which extends beyond the books to a digital interactive experience, and downloadable pay-for-play mobile apps games.

Readers can create their own custom VOYAGERS character, follow the team and experience this space adventure through the eyes of their own virtual droid.

Free content on Voyagers HQ:

Team Alpha Member Profile
Every registered user will have a personal profile page. This is where they can see their rank/level, view their achievements and badges, access their inventory and ZRK creations, as well as enter and track codes.

VOYAGERS Secret Intelligence
After players register, they will be given a project folder that contains ciphers and decoders that can be used in conjunction with the books to unlock secret content and virtual currency.

Secret content includes:
Character dossiers and expanded background information, mission briefings, ship and vehicle schematics, detailed information on the planets from ZRK probes, and opportunities to test their STEAM knowledge.

VOYAGERS Bonus Chapter
In addition to the secret intelligence files, each book also has a special puzzle that unlocks a free bonus chapter. This will complement the book and fill in some additional details and storylines. It is not required reading, but they should add to the book narratives in a meaningful way.

VOYAGERS series creator and architect, Patrick Carman is head of PC Studios which has created and overseen pioneering multimedia brands including SKELETON CREEK, TRACKERS, 3:15, and DARK EDEN. He is also an acclaimed, New York Times bestselling writer of more than 30 books, and one of the first authors chosen for 39 CLUES.

42 Entertainment is the premiere online multimedia company developing the immersive, interactive universe for VOYAGERS. 42 Entertainment is a next generation studio world renowned for some of the largest online experiences in the world including THE DARK KNIGHT,THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, and TRON LEGACY.

by DJ MacHale
In Stores Now

Earth is in danger! Without a renewable source of clean energy, our planet will be toast in less than a year. There are 6 essential elements that, when properly combined, create a new power source. But the elements are scattered throughout the galaxy. And only a spaceship piloted by children can reach it and return to Earth safely. First the ideal team of four 12-year-olds must be chosen, and then the first element must be retrieved. There is not a mistake to be made, or a moment to lose. The source is out there. Voyagers is blasting off in 3, 2, 1…

* Author Photo Credit: Gayle Goodrich*

About the Author:
D.J. MacHale is the author of the bestselling book series Pendragon, Morpheus Road, the SYLO Chronicles. He has written, directed and produced numerous award-winning television series and movies for young people including Are You Afraid of the Dark?; Flight 29 Down and Tower of Terror. D.J. lives with his family in Southern California.

by Robin Wasserman
In Stores November 3rd

The Alpha team has been chosen and they've already snagged the first element on planet J-16. The second is hidden on Meta-Prime, a planet filled with metal mazes, catapults of fire, and warring alien robots. But what our Voyagers don't know is that there is another ship, the Omega team, following hot on their trail...

*Author Photo Credit: Sonya Sones*

Author Bio:
Robin Wasserman is the author of several acclaimed books for children and young adults, including The Waking Dark, The Book of Blood and Shadow, Hacking Harvard, the Cold Awakening Trilogy, and the Chasing Yesterday Trilogy. A former children's book editor, she lives and writes (and frequently procrastinates) in Brooklyn, New York., @robinwasserman.

BOOK 1: PROJECT ALPHA BY D.J. MacHale [out now]
BOOK 2: GAME OF FLAMES BY Robin Wasserman [11/03/15]
BOOK 3: OMEGA RISING BY Patrick Carman [01/05/16]
BOOK 4: INFINITY RIDERS BY Kekla Magoon [03/01/16]
BOOK 5: ESCAPE THE VORTEX BY Jeanne DuPrau [03/01/16]
BOOK 6: THE SEVENTH ELEMENT BY Wendy Mass [05/03/16]

Learn more at Voyagers HQ.
Follow the authors on Twitter:
@PatrickCarman | @DJMacHale | @RobinWasserman

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Random House Children’s Books.