We did not have a chance to meet with all of the teams this week, but we still wanted to send out a tech tip for everyone. Today we are going through how to share in Google Docs and some of the benefits to using this part of Docs. When you share Docs within your teams or departments, you have an easy way to collaborate. Google Docs gives you the ability to keep up with the updated drafts of handouts and materials without having to revert to the classic file names of "FinalFINALACUTALFINAL1AFORREALFINAL.docx" :)
Matt and I would STRONGLY encourage you to begin using Google Docs to create and modify your handouts, projects, and team materials. You will not run out of storage space using Google Drive and you will be able to access these items from anyplace that has internet access (meaning you don't have to have one specific machine or device with you at all times).
Here is a video detailing how to share within Google Docs and the different levels of access.
Also, here is a helpful website that covers some of the basics of Google Docs. Also, for those of you who are used to using Microsoft Word, there is a helpful PDF/handout within this website that showcases the differences and similarities between these two platforms.
As always, please let Matt or myself know if we can help you with this transition.
So, here are a few things I've been reading lately.
Just finished: The Seventh Most Important Thing. SO GOOD.
Goodreads review below.
The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
***This title is a nominee for the 2017-18 Golden Sowers Chapter Book list.***
OK-I loved this book. I didn't really know too much about it before I started it (just that Arthur, the main character was in trouble for throwing a brick at the "Junk Man") but I couldn't put it down. I red it straight through in one sitting. The characters were oh-so-relatable. The story was compelling and interesting (and based on a true guy!). The writing was spectacular. I can't wait to recommend it to others.
Arthur Owens knew he shouldn't have thrown the brick. But when he saw the Junk Man, the guy who is always out going through people's garbage, wearing his deceased dad's hat (after his mom threw it out without telling anyone), something just came over him. And now his punishment is to help the Junk Man out. Something about redemption. Arthur doesn't know what that means, but he knows he'd rather do this than go back to juvie. So he starts working on Junk Man's list of the 7 Most Important Things. And he begins to wonder if he was meant to be doing this all along.
Other recent reads:
All the Answers
Ava finds a blue pencil in the junk drawer and decides to use it on her math test. She always gets SO NERVOUS before tests and she doesn't think this one will be any better. But, during the test, she discovers the pencil KNOWS the answers. All of them. At least the fact-based ones. So she and and her friend Sophie start asking it all sorts of things. But is there ever such a thing as too much information? Do you really want to be able to ask if someone likes you (or doesn't)? Or if your Grandpa really is sick? Ava has to figure out what to do with all of her new knowledge and if she can balance her desire to know everything with the stress of trying to figure it out.
Books that are in my TBR:
We had quite a few things going on in the library this week. From MAP testing, to teacher trainings, to student checkouts and AR tests, we were usually pretty busy.
For our staff, we went over some of the preferences and settings within Gmail. Find some of our information here. Our tech integration guy and I encouraged our staff to begin using Gmail instead of the Mail application since our district has transitioned to Google.
In addition, we also got our book talk kit (AND BOOKS!) to get us ready for the Scholastic Book Fair. The books we got are pictured below:
I encouraged the Reading staff to come in and help themselves to read one (or MORE) before the book talks. I also highly recommended Refugee (it's the only one I've read myself so far) and then this happened:
Alan Gratz tweeted me. I almost fell over this morning when I saw it on my notifications. He knows me! :)
As we continue to get new books in and fill our shelves, I am constantly on the lookout for other books to order. If you notice that we don't have something (a missing book in a series for example) or you know of a book coming out soon that you want to put on my radar, fill out the book recommendation form!
This is found on the homepage of the website. You will need to fill in your grade (or mark that you are a teacher) and give information about the book you are requesting. This can also be done if you want to suggest we have an extra copy (or 2!) of a specific title.
PLEASE NOTE: Requesting a book is not a guarantee that it will be ordered.
As I continue to add books, I will take these requests into consideration. :)
With the switch to Google/gmail, there has been some confusion and issues with people's email accounts. Below are some of the highlights of what we covered in our Tech Thursday PD session on gmail. As always, any questions-see Mr. Moore or me. :)
To begin, click on the wheel in the top right corner of your mailbox.
Once you have opened up your settings, you will have multiple options. Pay attention to which tab you have open at the top so you know what your options are.
When you are in "General", scroll down and you will see options for inserting a picture and a signature. Some tips: pick a picture that is YOU (actual image, bitmoji, family pic, etc) OR something Gretna-related
For your signature, keep in mind that you can put information that is pertinent to you and you can easily edit the info. If you have a website for your class, include a link. If you are a coach, include that info. If you travel between buildings, include that.
My 6th grade teachers requested book talks for the different Golden Sower books. They wanted the kids to know about the titles, have the AR information for each book, and also get information about the voting process/Root Beer Float party in the spring. We decided to have each class (groups of 22-26) come to the library for a class period.
While they were here, I had two separate areas for the activity. One side of the library was set up with the books from the "Novels" list and the other side had the books from the "Chapters" list. The Novels books were displayed with a handout I had made for each book that detailed the author, title, genre, 2-sentence summary, and "Ms. Tasich's Take." For the Chapters books, I created a google slideshow that I embedded into the Golden Sowers page with the same information except for a book trailer YouTube video instead of Ms. Tasich's Take. (full disclosure: I haven't read all of those books yet, so I needed some outside assistance!)
The students REALLY seemed to like the book trailers and the teachers were able to get a good sense of most of the 20 books available from the Golden Sowers this year. We also have had a HUGE increase in circulation for these titles this week, so the kids must have been paying attention! :)
Over this long weekend, I had a chance to read a few of the current and upcoming Golden Sower nominees. Mainly they were adventure stories, which isn't always my preferred genre, but they were really good. Highly recommend!
Terror at Bottle Creek by Watt Key
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
***This is a nominee for the 2017-18 Golden Sowers Novels list. ***
I did NOT expect to like this book as much as I did. It was fast paced, adrenaline pumping, and all too realistic. At one point, I had to quit reading and tell my husband this book seemed like my worst real life nightmare. And then I immediately began reading again.
Cort has always lived along the river. Hurricanes are nothing new, but this one feels different. His dad is worried about checking on his estranged wife and doesn't seem to be preparing as much as usual. In the end, Cort is left with Liza and Francie, his neighbors, to ride out the storm. And after Francie runs off, they have to try to survive overnight in the wilderness during the storm.
Highly recommend. I can't wait to book talk this one next week with my students.
Ruby Lee and Me by Shannon Hitchcock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
***This book is a nominee for the 2017-18 Golden Sowers Chapter Book list.***
Sarah Beth Willis is having the worst summer of her life. Her younger sister was hit by a car and Sarah is convinced its her fault. She was the one who was supposed to be watching Robin and now they don't know if Robin will make it, let alone ever walk or jump or play again. Besides that, this is the last summer before Sarah has to start at a new school, and this is the first year the colored children will be in her class. Her best friend (when she spends summers at her grandparents) has always been Ruby Lee, so she should be excited they can finally be in school together, but everyone from their grandmas to their mommas tell them they shouldn't be school-friends. Because it would just be too hard. Integration isn't going to come easy for Shady Creek.
Through all of this Sarah Beth has to finally learn what it means to grow up and make decisions based on what is right, not what is easy.
So, for the review:
I read this because it was up for the Golden Sower award. The intended grade level is probably 3-6. I thought it felt a bit forced/stilted at times, and after reading the author's note, I'm sure it is because the author was writing based on her own experiences. While that is fine (and this is an admirable topic to undertake) the writing of one's own encounters with integration means that there is no magic or spark since the author didn't take any liberties. This leads to a somewhat dry retelling of events. I would recommend this for purchase if a library is participating in the Golden Sowers or if there is a deficit in materials related to this subject matter. If there is already a robust collection of diverse materials, this is probably a skip for me.
Desert Dark by Sonja Stone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was actually a pretty good book and if this was my preferred genre/style of story, I probably would have given it a 5. As it was, I started it late one Friday afternoon and had it finished by the next Saturday after lunch. The story sucked me in and kept my interest with some twists and turns, and credible red herrings.
Nadia, 16, has been recruited to the Desert Academy, an ultra-exclusive training center and boarding school that preps students to become part of the CIAs Black Ops unit. Their training is absolutely confidential, from their families to the rest of the country. No one knows what goes on there. For good reason. But now there is a suspected double agent in their midst and everyone assumes it is Nadia. Will she be able to prove her innocence and find the real double agent in time?
This was a fast paced mystery/adventure story that students will enjoy. I would recommend it for grades 7 and up. There is some kissing, but no sexual or graphic language. Highly recommend.
We were busy in the library this week! The 6th grade teams were in for orientation and we had an 8th grade group in to start their informative speech projects.
The 6th grade orientation was set up with three different stations. One group was in the library for a scavenger hunt. During the scavenger hunt, the students were introduced to the library set up (we use genrification) and also answered questions about various signs, displays, and other areas of interest. The scavenger hunt is below in case anyone would like to use it.
A second station introduced the kids to Destiny Quest (our library catalog) and the library website. I created a very basic digital breakout game for this part of the day. The link to the game/website is here:
https://sites.google.com/gpsne.org/destinybreakout/home. Their goal was to save Lulu the cat.
Finally, we had 8th graders in here starting research for their informative speech. Ms. Montamorano and I had discussed their parameters beforehand and they had previously selected topics. Once here, I went over our database collections and showed them the 5 Ws of Source Evaluation. We looked at a few different examples and they were on their way!