Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sandy Hook Snowflake Project

This has been floating around the web. See what you can do to help - Sam Garchik
Today the sixth graders and my fifth grade class made paper snowflakes for Sandy Hook. It's a small way we can do something for the students at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Their PTSA is making a Winter Wonderland for the students. 
When they go back to school after break they will be in a different building. The idea is to decorate all the halls and classrooms with snowflakes, so they walk into a magical wonderland. PS-It's also a great way to up-cycle pretty wrapping paper:)

*Snowflakes for Sandy Hook  (from:
*Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school! Get Creative!!  No two snowflakes are alike. Make and send snowflakes to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT  06514, by January 12, 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Chris Harris gives an Iowa shoutout

Chris Harris held a preconference workshop, gave a dynamic keynote address and presented two presentations at the Iowa Library Association conference in October. Our IASL President was a key figure in making that all happen. Read what Chris has to say about Iowans in his American Libraries column E-content, "Simon & Schuster Ebooks Can't Resist Persistant Iowans".

Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Review: Ashen Winter

What if a supervolcano erupted in the United States?  According to CNN, a supervolcanic eruption would be “at least 25,000 times larger than the Mount St. Helens eruption.”  If the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, "’devastation would be complete and incomprehensible’...After the initial eruption, clouds of gas and rock would burn everything in its path...Ashfall would cover the western United States and also enter the jet stream with the potential to cripple air transportation and threaten the world's food supply” (  This is exactly what has happened in the Ashfall series, by Mike Mullin.

Ashen Winter continues where Ashfall left off, with Alex and Darla staying with his uncle’s family and living as well as they can off of the snow- and ash-covered land.  When they unexpectedly get a clue to his parents whereabouts, Alex and Darla decide to return to devastated Iowa to try to find them and bring them home.  Along their journey, they are met with obstacle after obstacle, including bandits, Black Lake soldiers, and slave traders, not to mention the frigid weather conditions, lack of supplies, and cannibals.  Will they ever make it back home in one piece and bring Alex’s family back together again?

For lovers of Ashfall, readers will not be too disappointed.  The book is full of action and adventure, along with development of relationships and the addition of a few interesting new characters, as well as revisiting a few favorite characters from the last book.  However, the series takes a bit of a downward turn in this book.  It has been just six months since the eruption, and conditions are not improving.  In fact, they are depressingly and disturbingly awful, with little hope for improvement. There are few high points in the novel, and an open ending may be frustrating for readers.  However, lovers of apocalyptic novels like Life As We Knew It, by Susan Pfeffer, will enjoy this series as well.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review: Raven Boys

The latest work by Maggie Stiefvater (author of Shiver) is Raven Boys, set in Henrietta, a town where there is a distinct line drawn between the haves at the private academy and the have-nots of the “normal” public school kids.  Blue is of the latter category, and prides herself on being strange, coming from a family of psychics.  Although Blue herself does not have psychic abilities, she is said to be able to focus others’ supernatural strength.  Gansey and his friends Adam, Noah, and Ronan attend Aglionby Academy, who Blue calls “raven boys.”  However, Gansey and his group are not typical raven boys because they have more on their minds than cars, ivy league college, and money.  More specifically, they spend all their time looking for Glendower, an old Welsh king who they believe is buried on a ley line that goes through Henrietta.  Their search for Glendower leads them to cross paths with Blue, which is a connection that will change all their lives forever.

Stiefvater is a master of creating characters and relationship that draw you in and make you care about each person.   Her twists of the uniquely supernatural add to the story without taking it over.  However, this development of characters does take time, and readers that are quickly bored may not become engrossed enough to read this book.  For those who do take the time, it is an excellent read, though the ending seems rather abrupt and somehow unfinished (to be continued in the four-book series of the Raven Cycle).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

IASL Leadership Academy Announcement

What is coming up?
A School Library Leadership Academy, supported by AASL, IASL, and ABC-CLIO

Who is invited?
Iowa Teacher Librarians who aspire to be leaders and have up to 5 years of professional experience as Teacher Librarians

June 20-21, 2013

An opportunity for 15 teacher librarian aspiring leaders to gather in the Iowa City area for June 20-21, 2013, for inspiration, idea sharing, collegiality—and some fun. Tuition and lodging in Coralville will be provided by the sponsors.

Topics will include
·       self-awareness, developing personal leadership skill
·       the teacher librarian and the school culture
·       leading from the middle
·       advocacy and effective communication
·       mentoring
·       principle-centered leadership, technical leadership skills: group process, time management, prioritization

Applications are due March 1, 2013. Application form is linked below.

Google Docs Application

Application in MS Word

Jean Donham, Ph. D.
School Library Studies
University of Northern Iowa
College of Education

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Levitation.  Rejuvenation.  Invisibility.  
Shapeshifting.  Incredible strength.  

As Jacob is growing up, his grandfather Abe tells him stories of people who could do all these incredible feats and even more, from the time when he lived in an orphanage during World War II.  He even has pictures to prove it.  As Jacob grows older, he realizes his grandfather is probably pulling his leg, and, as he examines the pictures, he can see how they could be easily faked.  But as his grandfather ages his mind seems to grow more frail, and it is difficult to tell the difference between fact and fiction.

After the mysterious death of his grandfather, Jacob decides to take a trip to the orphanage to see for himself the place and people that had such a profound effect on his grandfather's life.  What he discovers is more mysterious and life-changing than he ever imagined.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, starts out as a mystery, has a touch of horror, but by the end of the book turns into a supernatural fantasy.  The pictures, which are actual antiques from personal collections, add to the book, but can also be a bit awkward as the story tries to fit the details of the pictures.  The novel has some great action and suspense, although some readers may be disappointed with the open ending (set up for the untitled sequel, slated to be released in June of 2013). I would recommend this book for junior high and up, particularly for those who are looking for a mystery book.  It may also be a good introduction to students who who are not usual readers of fantasy, although fantasy lovers will enjoy it as well.

What's new on AASL eCOLLAB?

What's new on AASL eCOLLAB?

Suggested by Jean Donham

These webinars are now available as part of AASL's
professional development repository!

How to be a Ninja Warrior Filter Fighter! *
In honor of Banned Websites Awareness Day, this webinar focuses on how overly restrictive filtering of legitimate, educational websites and academically useful social networking tools affects student learning. Presenter Gwyneth Jones will also share what school librarians can do to fight this type of restrictive filtering in their schools.

Opening the Space: Libraries as a Site of Participatory Culture *
Andy Plemmons looks at the school library as a site of participatory culture through elements such as student book budgets, collaborative projects, opportunities for students to showcase their creations to others in a variety of ways, and students taking leadership in teaching one another how to use technology to create.

The Power of Data *
The Power of Data analyzes the types of data available to school librarians and how the data can be used to support school library programs. Dr. Sandra Andrews explores with participants a variety of datasets at the local, state, and national level that include information on schools and school libraries.

Wanted: Information Literacy Skills in a World of Google & Wikipedia *
The amount of information that has already been indexed online and the amount that is being added everyday is enough to overwhelm even the sharpest of researchers. Emily Gover discusses recent findings on the status of plagiarism, research methods and citation practices and cross-references these results with data pulled and analyzed directly from EasyBib.

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* These links will prompt you to log into the AASL website.

Did you know?

AASL's eCOLLAB: Your eLearning Laboratory is resource provided to you as a feature of your AASL membership. In eCOLLAB, you'll find webcasts, podcasts, and resources from various AASL professional development events. Members can also view read-only version of the latest issue of AASL’s print journal, Knowledge Quest. Fit professional development into your schedule! Visit eCOLLAB today!
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