Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Literary Characters for Library Courtyard Mural

NH-S students! You have an exciting opportunity to have YOUR IMAGE painted on the library courtyard mural! The design concept for the mural is to include literary characters from well-known books. YOU are invited to come to school dressed as a character which you believe should be included on the mural. If your character is selected, YOUR digital image will be used as a model for the painting of that character.
Come dressed as that character on TUESDAY, DECEMEBER 7th. Your picture will be taken and your photo will be submitted to a panel of teachers and students who will make the final selections.

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010


Tim Vaughan-Ogunlusi, Marisa Lewis, Margarita Engle, Patrick Carvalho, Ariel Ozbeki
On October 13, Cuban American poet and novelist, Margarita Engle, honored New Hope-Solebury with two presentations; one for students during the school day, and another in the evening for the community. The author’s visit was part of the NH-S Read the World program and was provided through a grant from the NH-S Education Fund. This year’s Read the World program focuses on Latin American countries, featuring two of Engle’s works, The Poet Slave: Juan Francisco Manzano and The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom.
Ms. Engle spoke to NH-S high school Spanish and English classes about her Cuban background and about her inspiration for her young adult books. The Spanish students have been reading The Poet Slave and have been learning about Cuba in their classes and the English students have been reading The Surrender Tree. Both books explore Cuba’s history through a collection of poetic verses, and both have won numerous literary awards. Ms. Engle spoke again in the evening, allowing the community an opportunity to learn about Cuban culture and history and to hear about Ms. Engle’s writing process.
The Read the World program is a collaboration of the New Hope-Solebury High School, the Free Library of New Hope and Solebury and the New Hope-Solebury Education Fund. The goup’s mission is “one community exploring cultural diversity one book at a time.” Two additional presentations have been scheduled which celebrate the cultural diversity of other Latin American countries. On October 25th at 7:00 pm, photographer, Bob Krist, will present his professional photographs of various Latin American countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Buenos Aires and Easter Island.The presentation will be held in the Stephen J Buck Auditorium at New Hope-Solebury High School. On October 28th at 7:00 pm, there will be a Mexican Fiesta Dancing demonstration via a live video feed. A professional dancer will be demonstrating Day of the Dead dances in the New Hope-Solebury High School Cafeteria.
Further information can be found at http://www.nhs-read-the-world.com/ or by contacting Mary Schwander, NH-S High School librarian, at mschwander@nhsd.org or 215-862-2028.Donation information for the NH-S Education Fund can be found at http://www.nhsedfund.org/.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Reflecting on the Google Experience

This past December, I was pleased to attend the Google Teacher Academy in Washington DC. I was quite honored that my district's assistant superintendent, tech director and my principal contacted me to suggest that I apply. I was honored even more to have been selected among a truly terrific and respectful group of educators.

My GTA Application Video:

The day and a half with Google gurus was quite unbelievable. My head was spinning with all the applications I was learning about and all the ideas I had about using those applications. On my home, I thought of all the ways which I could use Google tools as a library media specialist, and became excited about what I wanted to share with my teachers, and with other librarians in my professional learning network.

It didn't take me long to start making some changes in how I was running my library. I changed my library website from iWeb to Google Sites, used Google Docs to switch from a paper system to an online schedule, and used Google Forms for things like book recommendations and to keep track of books read by students for a reading competition.
I took advantage of the many Google search tools by adding custom search engines and embedded Google Books to my library pathfinders. I instructed students how to create their own search engines and how to customize their searches with Google Alert and Google Custom News. I also created a Google Earth trip for a lesson our 9th graders did on Shakespeare.
I encouraged students to using advanced Google Image searches for finding copyright free photos and Google Books to help in their research.

Of course, I couldn't keep all this good Google stuff to myself and was eager to share it with teachers and other librarians. I presented to teachers at department meetings in my school and my district and to librarians at the Pennsylvania School Library Association conference. The librarians seem to appreciate the Google information and, in fact, one of the librarians along with her tech director are visiting me at my school next week to learn more about Google. Another librarian plans to visit this summer.

My attempt at a fun Google Search Story for librarians:

This summer, I am looking forward to presenting two full-day workshops on Google tools for my district teachers. I also look forward to creating a Google Lit Trip for our Read the World program on Latin American literature.

What is most exciting to me is the fact that virtually everyday there is something new in the world of Google! I know that this summer I will be exploring some new tool which Google has unveiled, or improved upon a previous tool. I am now pursuing certification for a Instructional Technology Specialist and I am sure that Google will be helping me and inspiring me along the way.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Exciting News for Chanda's Secrets

I was so happy to get an email from Allan Stratton today with a link to a TIME magazine article about the movie, Life, Above All. The movie, which is based on Allan's book, Chanda's Secrets, is an Un Certain Regard selection for the Cannes Film Festival. The award ceremony will be held tomorrow night.

I was equally excited to see the movie trailer on YouTube. Looks like the movie does nice justice to the novel.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Student Reports on "Read the World"

New Hope-Solebury High School senior, Wade Millward, reports on our Read the World program on KYW News Studios.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New Addition to Library Courtyard!

Thanks to a generous donation by the Steve Buck/Hardy Bush Foundation, the library received two new, beautiful benches for the courtyard! This was a needed addition to the previous improvements that were made to the library courtyard - that thanks to a grant by the NH-S Education Fund.
Just hours after the benches were delivered, Mrs. Reeder's English class took advantage by gathering there to collaborate on a project.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Material from the Krist Family

[cover thumbnail]
Just a few days ago, I was excited to have received this newly published book from Peggy Krist who lives here in New Hope with her husband, Bob. Though I haven't had a chance to read it yet, a quick glance through the book affirms that this will be a must-read for many. This is what Peggy had to say about her book in an email to me:
I recently wrote a tribute to Jonny, On His Way Home, to help me cope with his death. The book is my road map from grief to generosity and how we came to start a foundation in his name. It is a story about giving back the future our son lost. You can order the book online. Paperback is $20, Hardcover $25. All proceeds benefit the foundation.

Jonny graduated from our high school in 2005 and his death just a year later devastated many in our community. On His Way Home is available for purchase here, or can be borrowed from our library. Information about the Jonathan Krist Foundation can be found on their website.

Bob, Peggy's husband and world-renown photographer, also has something of interest for the community of New Hope - a new collection of photographs: "New Hope: In Character". According to an article in today's Intelligencer, the collection will be featured in the New Hope Arts Center on Stockton Avenue and, among many other super New Hope people, will include our very own math teachers, Brian Loving, Brian Rutledge and Mike Bongiovanni as well as the popular musicians of Ween. You can get insight about the inspiration for the project on Bob's blog and in the video below.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Terrifying Yet Wonderful Read

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Thriller and Horror are certainly not genres which I tend to read, but was intrigued by the reviews and awards which this book has received. I was not disappointed!
In the year of 1888, 12-year-old Will Henry witnesses an intrusion of terrifying, carnivorous monsters and captures every gruesome detail in his journal. Over one hundred years later, that journal reaches the hands of Rick Yancey who then turns the journal into this book...or so the story goes. The story of this young boy, who is a dutiful assistant to a monstrumologist in New England, is absolutely horrifying and has the potential of causing many a reader's nightmares. Yet, with a captivating story-line and exquisite writing, a literary gem lies beyond the bloodcurdling prose. Look for a sequel in September!

Visit Rick Yancey's website for more information on The Monstrumologist, including a captivating book trailer and a discussion guide.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Marcelo in the Real World

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
When his father insists that seventeen-year-old Marcelo work at his law firm for the summer, Marcelo feels nervous and reluctant. Having a condition similar to autism, he has trouble interacting with people and would be much more comfortable working on the horse farm as he has every other summer. However, once Marcelo is in the "real world", he surprises himself and others with his capacity for love and compassion and his strong sense of morality. Readers will appreciate the honest and innocent voice of Marcelo as well as the sincere characters who help inspire him.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Into the Beautiful North is a Beautiful Read!

Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

An epiphany comes to Nayeli and her two girlfriends when they see The Magnificent Seven at their local theater in their small Mexican town. Following the plot of this American movie, they decide to head north to the United States to find seven worthy men to protect their village and to replenish their weakened male population. With their whole town rooting for them, and accompanied by Nayeli's gay employer, Tacho, they lead a mission filled with adventure, despair and plenty of laughter. Highly recommended!

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Catching Fire" Catches Interest

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Readers who were riveted by The Hunger Games and left yearning for more will not be disappointed in this exciting sequel by Suzanne Collins. Six months after Katniss and Peeta return from the Hunger Games as victors, they find themselves trapped by the menacing President Snow in a story of deceit. As the Capitol prepares for a grand wedding between Katniss and Peeta, Katniss finds herself struggling with hard decisions. Should her devotion be towards Peeta or her life-time, dear friend, Gale? Should she lead a rebellion against the Capitol, or would that be putting her mother, sister and the residents of District 12 in terrible danger? Catching Fire has plenty of twists and excitement to keep readers turning the pages and longing for the next sequel.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Google Books adds Features to Library

In Google Books, you can now create bookshelves similar to personal online libraries such as Shelfari, GoodReads and LibraryThing.

"You can create a personalized library on Google Books which allows you to organize, review, rate, and search a customized selection of books. These collections live online, and are accessible anywhere you can log in to your Google account. Bookshelves that are set to 'public' (with the icon showing two people) are publicly visible to friends who know the URL of your collection, so once you've built a collection, you can share it with them by sending them a link to your library in Google Books."

What's the next step for GoogleBooks? How about creating code to embed these bookshelves on our blogs and websites?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sad Day for Pennsylvania Libraries

It was announced this week that EBSCO host will no longer be available through POWER Library. Because of drastic cuts in the budget by PA Department of Education, this comprehensive database consisting of articles and multimedia sources will no longer be available as of February 1, 2010. At this point, it remains to be seen what databases will replace the offerings of EBSCO, but certainly it will not be nearly the extent of what POWER Library has offered in the past.
Thankfully, our students and staff have access to a number of databases to which our library subscribes. Please visit our Database website for links to each one, as well as a Google Custom Search for several online newspaper and periodical sites.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tips for Google Reader

I just saw these tips for keyboard shortcuts in Google Reader and thought they were worth sharing:

Use j/k to navigate through a feed's items, t to tag an item, / (slash) to search, or press ? to get the list of all the keyboard shortcuts Reader supports.Press Escape to make the shortcut list disappear.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

BlogThis Toool

What is BlogThis! ? "BlogThis! is an easy way to make a blog post without visiting blogger.com. Once you add the BlogThis! link to your browser's toolbar, blogging will be a snap. Or rather, a click. Clicking BlogThis! creates a mini-interface to Blogger prepopulated with a link to the web page you are visiting, as well as any text you have highlighted on that page. Add additional text if you wish and then publish or post from within BlogThis!"

And yes - I used BlogThis to create this post!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Discovering eBooks for my iPod Touch

This weekend I discovered that there are many FREE ebooks available for my iTouch through iPhone apps. Previously, I had not really been very interested in exploring ebooks for my small iTouch screen since I imagined that the print would be too difficult for me to read, much like the text when browsing through websites. However, not only was I surprised by how clear the print is, but I was pleased to see that the Kindle app offers quite a few titles for free. As might be expected, many free titles are classics such as Pride and Prejudice and Dracula, but I was pleased to find quite a few new releases such as Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (which was my first pick!). I also learned from a Tweet from @DoremiGirl that Stanza and Classics are two other great apps for ebooks and also offer many free titles.

The text preferences within these ebook apps can be adjusted to make your reading more clear and legible. Not only can you choose different font sizes, but you can choose between a day-time or night-time screen (as pictured) and there are various features for bookmarking, adding notes, or searching within a book.

While I'm not anywhere ready to purchase an ebook reader for myself for a couple of hundred dollars, I certainly am pleased to find I now have a couple of ebook options for my iTouch, and that many of the titles are free, or at a very low cost!

Book Review: Liar

Though Micah is a self-proclaimed liar, she begins the book with a promise: "I will tell you my story and I will tell it straight. No lies, no omissions. That's my promise. This time I truly mean it." Or does she? Throughout the novel, readers are taken on such a roller-coaster of self-admitted lies that nothing can be believed or taken for granted. Was she born a girl, a boy...or something completely different? What kind of relationship did she really have with Zach, a fellow high school student who was murdered? What does she know about the murder...was she involved? The ambiguous ending will leave readers intrigued with an urge to discuss the novel with others.

Larbalestier, Justine. Liar. New York: Bloomsbury, 2009. 978-1-59990-305-7. 376p.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Book Review: Sorta Like a Rock Star

I just finished reading Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick which is due to be released in May 2010. It's one of those very special reads which I didn't want to put down, and which I will be recommending to many. It most certainly will be one of my top ten for the PSLA Top Forty Book Review Committee!

Amber Appleton is one of The Five - a group of misfit, "freak" students who have been friends since they were put together for counseling in the fifth grade. After school, you can find Amber drinking green tea with a Vietnam vet who is fond of writing haiku's, tutoring Korean women in English by leading them in Motown songs, or visiting a retirement home where she and Joan of Old entertain residents with their optimism vs pessimism battles. At night, Amber sleeps (often alone) on the Hello Yellow bus which her mom drives for a living. Her mom is often "out fishing" at bars, looking for her next Prince Charming. Readers will smile with delight at the positive, vivacious attitude of Amber as she spreads hope among her various, eccentric friends. However, when she struggles to come to terms with a tragic, life-changing event, we find that Amber is not as capable of receiving help as she is at giving it. This is a truly delightful book which will have readers both laughing and crying throughout. Highly recommended!

We were privileged to have Matthew Quick visit our school last Spring to discuss his first novel, The Silver Linings Playbook. The students not only loved this book but were fascinating by his personal story of becoming a writer. Let's hope he has many more novels to come!