Tuesday, May 7, 2013
One of the highlights of spring on a high school campus is the arrival of college acceptance letters. As staff we look forward to hearing about our students' plans for their future. Unfortunately, not everyone's plans will go according to plan. It's difficult to hear a student share his or her disappointment, anger and frustration over a rejection letter, loss of financial assistance or any other twist or turn than can send them down an unknown path.
I've counseled a few such souls here in the LMC and to all of them I gave the same advice, "This very well may be the best thing that happened, the unexpected brings on all manner of possibilities. "
It turns out that I now have to practice what I preach. Changes were made in the football program and we now have a new head coach from outside the district. I confess that I hadn't considered that change affecting the Frosh program and me too much.
I was mistaken.
The changes in the program aren't necessarily the problem, it's more my reaction to them I'm finding myself feeling a bit like those students who had their heart set on one particular path to take them where they want to go. And you know what? It's harder to follow my advice then I thought.
No matter how you approach change; it comes, most often unexpectedly. Where do you draw the line between don't fix what isn't broken and being open and flexible?
Perhaps it's time for me to have a change of heart. Yes, football is different right now, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. For instance-
The sound of players spelling out Huskies while doing jumping jacks.
The smell of the players who just did jumping jacks.
The feel of the ball in your hands.
A cool breeze across the field when we run plays.
Dust in your lungs stirred up from cool breezes.
In a way, there's not much different about football. Its core elements, the things I love about the game and working with players and my fellow coaches; those are the same.
For those Huskies out there forging a new path post-high school remember this- you're still going on an adventure. You'll still learn things and meet new people. You'll grow in ways you never imagined.
As for flexibility, grab some yoga pants and a mat. A downward dawg shouldn't be a problem for Husky.
Friday, April 5, 2013
I have bonded with my iPad Mini and thus have begun bonding with the Kindle app and e-reading. As I've said before, I'm not an e-reading hater, I've just always preferred real books. I still do. But the time has come for me to venture a bit further out of my comfort zone for two reasons- access and portability.
In terms of access, more authors are releasing e-content. Short stories and novellas are making a comeback. Authors are enjoying writing short pieces, readers are thrilled to get new content of any length between book releases, so it's a win/win. I'm also noticing e-content for tie-ins to movie and TV shows. This year marks the 50th. Anniversary of Doctor Who and to help celebrate, the BBC has commissioned popular YA authors to pen stories about each of the eleven doctors. A new story is e-published each month until November when the entire collection will be offered in book form. E-content makes giving readers samples or early access cost effective and simple for authors and publishers.
Before Spring Break I was forced to purchase an e-book from one of my favorite authors because Barnes and Noble ordered such a small quantity of her new release, it was sold out when I went to buy it. My heart was set on starting the book that night, so I downloaded it. Did I enjoy the book more or less? Not really, but I can't say that I feel like I own it. If I can't grab it off a shelf or have it autographed is it really a book?
I am the type of reader who travels with books. For a vacation longer than seven days I will take at least five books with me and likely purchase one or two if I happen upon a bookstore. With airfare baggage charges and weight limits, I realize e-books make traveling much easier.
As I add to my e-book collection I have decided to purchase some favorite books that I enjoy rereading more than once- everything by Jane Austen for example. I know I want to reread the entire Harry Potter series as well as the Game of Thrones series. These books are huge and heavy and seem perfect for e-reading except for one catch- I'd need to repurchase them. I own two of all the Harry Potter books already and all of the Game of Thrones titles. E-copies would set me back about $120 total. To be honest, I'd rather spend that money on new books.
Remember how we all had to replace records with CDs and then CDs with digital downloads? Tough choices!
The one aspect of e-reading that still concerns me is how it affects the discovery process. Avid readers love to walk through the stacks at a bookstore or library. If you've reduced your entire reading existence to what you download from a recliner in your family room, I guarantee you'll be missing out on discovering a new author despite Amazon's "readers who bought this, also bought-" feature.
Reading is still a multi-sensory experience. I've seen students who got e-readers for Christmas spend less time looking at books in the LMC because they now just shop in the Kindle store. Yes they're finding some good books, but that seems like such a passive way to treasure hunt. Book covers and titles are designed to be enticing. A flat screen doesn't capture that in quite the same way in my opinion.
I know reading isn't dying but I can't help but feel that small parts of it are nearing THE END.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
|Disney's Sleeping Beauty|
A) BC (Before Coffee).
B) I didn’t have my contacts or glasses on.
C) I was exhausted.
If my husband had a say, he’d add D) There was too much junk on the bathroom counter, but I can assure you that had nothing to do with it.
If you guessed C, you’re right. Last night my Husky had a lacrosse game. We returned home after 10:00 p.m. and after setting the coffee maker, petting the animals, some kitchen KP and the usual bedtime routine, I found myself in bed at 10:45 with a book in hand. I read for about fifteen minutes before shutting off the lights.
That’s when I did the math- my alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m.- I’d be lucky to get a full five and a half hours of sleep. I could hear my Husky mulling around the house after my light went off. Teens’ circadian rhythms get reset at puberty for later bedtimes, usually just past 11:00 p.m. According to the Mayo Clinic, my Husky needed nine hours of sleep and I needed seven to nine for optimum health.
We’re falling short. Given that I work at here at Horizon, we are on nearly the same schedule. We both leave the house at 6:40 a.m. I arrive at 7 a.m. and open the library. The school day runs from 7:25-2:20, with me staying until 3:00.
Factor in homework, sports or school activities and perhaps a part time job and the average teen is pretty busy. The average teen parent has a full time job, dinner and household duties and either volunteering for their child’s activities or viewing them. I’m not talking about being over-scheduled either. One activity, like a sport, can take up an enormous chunk of time for the teen and the adults in his life. All those after school obligations go late into the night, often past 9 p.m. not including travel time. That’s not going to change.
Years ago the district queried parents about switching start times- having the younger students start earlier, the older kids later, as is done in other Valley schools, but the notion never took off. I keep hoping it will get revisited.
Now I know I could get up later than 4:30 a.m. to add some much needed sleep to my schedule and if I had one of those post-apocalypse pixie cuts like Carol on the Walking Dead I’d consider it. The only thing worse than feeling exhausted is feeling rushed, and my early rising affords me a full thirty minutes to sip my morning coffee and prepare for the day. Priceless! (That’s what concealer is for anyway.)
After nearly two years of working on a high school campus no one knows better how snarky, temperamental and moody teens can be. But keep in mind that there’s nothing beautiful about being exhausted and most teens are exactly that.
I’m going to soldier on and get through the day with a Starbuck’s elixir or two.
It’s a pity youth is wasted on the young because I’m not sure they have the time to fully enjoy and appreciate it anymore.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
My grandma never bonded with the microwave my mother bought her. It drove us crazy, but in the end Gram still manged to heat up her food just fine using the stove or oven with no difference in outcome.
There was a time when a person could hide behind the technology he or she used forever and still function in the world.
I believe those days are numbered, if not gone already.
System updates aren't anything new, but their frequency and ability to disrupt has increased over the last year. So much so that we're seeing updates effect outcomes more and more. Older browsers can't support certain plug-ins. Older operating systems can't update to a newer browser. And some places (Google) refuse to play nice anymore with old Office software.
For those who have successfully avoided digital literacy, there's nowhere to hide anymore. For those of us who are regular, if not confident, users there's a fatigue settling in as we constantly adjust to new settings or windows to perform functions we've been doing for years.
It's a mixed blessing of sorts because while updates are meant to solve problems, they often cause new ones.
Here in the LMC, we try and stay on top of the changes as best we can. For all their DI (digital intelligence) students struggle with changes as much as we do. Sometimes we figure out a problem together, sometimes the kids tip us off and other times we scramble for a fix in the eye of a storm (always it seems on a day an English class has a paper due).
Here are some tips for taking the Ugh out and being Up for updates-
- Adjusting to new software changes is a bit like a brain teaser, so your exercising your mind!
- Synonyms for up- well-versed, cognizant, informed and my favorite- savvy. See how smart you sound already?
- Think about the movie Up- doesn't it put a smile on your face? (Except for that lovely montage in the beginning that makes people cry- don't think about that!)
- Up is higher- as in higher learning, higher capacity and high-end user- you're practically a pro!
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
|This is about a girl changing who she is to fit in at her high school.|
On Tuesday, January 29, 2013 the LMC hosted our first ever Book Spine Poetry Slam with the juniors from Mr. Kluch and Ms. Harris' classes.
Poetry frightens most people, including me. All that figurative language and evocative imagery can intimidate the most confident person. But poetry is really just a different form of story telling not unlike a novel or a painting.
The idea behind Book Spine Poetry is to let students participate in creating verse in a friendly, fast and fun way. Classes were divided into groups of 3-5 and given six books. They could exchange the books with others from the book bank, but could only work with six at a time. They were given five minutes to create a poem using the titles of six books, read top to bottom. No add-in phrases allowed. Each group read their poem aloud and explained its meaning and themes.
To say that Ms. Orest, Ms. Harris, Mr. Kluch and I were blown away is an understatement. We had no idea what to expect from the students, this being our first time using the activity. As is often the case when you work with youth, you end up learning more from those you serve than the other way around!
Not only were the students energetic in their approach to the challenge, they rose above our meager expectations and drew a few tears with their poems. (Not ashamed!)
At risk of beating a dead horse, I can't stress enough how an activity like this wouldn't be possible without books in the Library Media Center! Students touched books, moved about the LMC, engaged with other classmates in their randomly assigned groups and created stories where there were none. (Like magic!) Not one item used for this assignment involved a device, a battery or access to WiFi. Technology is wonderful, but hands-on physical materials are just as valuable for meaningful learning.
So sit back and enjoy the genius of our HHS students!
|This is one of my favorites from third hour.|
|A soldier's battlefield message to his wife. (Yeah, got to me too.)|
|They went with Faulkner for the theme and look at all the titles they found to connect to that last book.|
|All about feeling like you don't belong, but knowing there is a place that you do.|
|Down Under, but not Australia, if you know what I mean.|
|Isn't this one beautiful?|
Thursday, January 17, 2013
|A library without books. Looks a bit sterile doesn't it?|
Last fall I watched an episode of MTV's sitcom "The Inbetweeners." The show chronicles the lives of four high school boys who reside on the outskirts of all social circles at their public high school. This particular episode featured an energy drink company sponsoring a makeover of the school library. When the new library was unveiled, the students and distraught librarian discovered that all the books had been removed. In their place were vending machines for the energy drinks, video game monitors and a bunch of Art Deco furniture.
I certainly had a few laughs when I watched the show and felt especially proud that some of the students protested the absence of the books. Then I forgot all about it.
Well I'm not laughing today.
This week the library world is a-buzz talking about a high school that has in fact removed its print collection from the space. It's now a learning center with tables, chairs and computers. The few print books that remain on campus have been distributed to classrooms for teacher supervised lending libraries. You can read the details here.
When I Google searched to find the article again for this post, I was shocked at how long it took me to find it because this bookless library thing is happening in several places. Rather than being seen as a cause for public concern, this new model is heralded as progressive. The word thriving is thrown around a lot.
I'll spare you a rant here (you can read my thoughts in the comments section of the article) but I will show you what isn't happening in these libraries but is happening here in the HHS LMC.
One English class has begun their poetry unit. Every day this week we've had students coming in looking for a poet to read and study. Because we are a full service LMC I was able to do this on Monday-
First I asked the student what type of fiction she enjoyed. Using that information I suggested a contemporary poet, Lucille Clifton. I handed the young lady a copy of Ms. Clifton's work and then referred her to You Tube, where she could view video clips of Ms. Clifton reading her work. The student sat down at a computer and fifteen minutes later she return to the circulation desk and declared, "I really want to read this book now!"
And I was able to let her take it with her that very moment.
Yesterday a boy came in with an list of classic novels. He needed to pick one to read and did not appear too happy about it. He admitted that he rarely read for pleasure. The only descriptive word I could get out him to describe the type of book he might enjoy was adventure. So I took him to the stacks (where the books are) and we wandered up and down the Classics section. At first I wasn't sure what to recommend, but being near the books immediately put ideas in my head and within a few moments I had four suggestions. He took home a copy of Frankenstein.
A school library is a gathering place, an information source and a support center. We would be half a library if we offered only digital materials or print materials. I was able to give my students exactly what they needed because we have integrated all platforms for materials here in the LMC.
So why care about what's happening in a Catholic school library in the Midwest? Because if we don't pay attention to trends in libraries, if we don't advocate for the services and materials to make students successful, the people who make decisions will make one without all the facts.
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
|OMG we're at Hogwarts!|
So I went on an adventure over Winter Break- to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando Florida. As a huge fan of the books (We named the dog Weasley for goodness' sake!) this experience took our love of all things Potter to a level that the films never could. Head buried in a book? How about your whole body surrounded by one?
|Can you read the sign?|
This is the entrance to the village of Hogsmeade, where all good Hogwarts boys and girls get to visit on weekends during the school year. The village is a really a mashup of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, combining the shops known in those places, but that didn't bother me at all because I finally got to taste Butter Beer- the famous magical beverage, which is really a fancy soda. It's a cross between root beer and cream soda with a dash of butterscotch. Yummy!
|The village of Hogsmeade.|
|Another view of Hogwarts.|
|The Sorting Hat in all his glory. He spoke & moved!|
If you're a fan I highly recommend a visit if you can swing it. I know Universal Studios Hollywood is planning to add a Harry Potter section to the park in the near future, making easier for us here in Arizona. I can only hope that literary theme parks become a trend. I'd love to visit Jane Austen Land or Panem or Mount Olympus from the Percy Jackson series. As a writer I confess to a touch of envy toward J.K. Rowling. As if it's not enough to not only finish a book, but see it published successfully, but she now has had her work presented in all dimensions. Wow!
My trip was practically perfect in every way but one- I'd like to find the witch or wizard who put an Expecto Fizzious spell on my hair!*
*See the first picture.