Monday, August 31, 2009

GIFSL* 42: : Trailer Time

So if you happen to have a screen, projector and computer available in the library....
...and your office won't fit all the kids who want to see the trailers you're talking about... (as in, you have an office that ends up looking like a sixties-style-how-many-people-fit-in-my-Mini? plus multiple noses pressed to the glass...) when you're showing a trailer...(as I often do)...
...why not have a trailerfest one lunchtime?

Here's the list of trailers I showed on Friday, in the second half of lunch (most of which I've mentioned previously on this blog) (and how curious that so many are related to books!):

Sherlock Holmes (books by Arthur Conan Doyle)
Fantastic Mr Fox (book by Roald Dahl)
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (books by Rick Riordan)
Where the Wild Things Are (book by Maurice Sendak)
Alice in Wonderland (book by Lewis Carroll)
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant (books by Darren Shan)
Twilight: New Moon (second trailer) (books by Stephenie Meyer)
and a mashup: When Buffy [the vampire slayer] met Edward Cullen

  • Have a list with links like this, so you're not hunting for them. 
  • Open each link in a new browser tab, wait for each one to load/do its initial buffering, then press the Play arrow and then Pause.  Some won't start loading unless you press Play; you want them started so you don't have to wait while a trailer is buffering.
  • Do this setup before lunch or lunch 1 (if you're showing them lunch 2, as I did) so you're ready to roll.
  • I thought about popcorn - but wasn't sure if that would end happily for me or the cleaner, and then forgot to buy any in the morning, so this time it didn't happen (microwave popcorn).  (Of course, she says with a mean grin, I could always just zap some microwave popcorn for its sensory/olfactory impact, without actually offering any around...)
  • Ratings: the list above generally reflects that I'm in a high school - primary schools may want to pick and choose to suit.  Generally, trailers are PG/suitable for all audiences (even if the final film has a tougher rating) so they can reach as wide an audience as possible.
  • There are other teaser trailers and earlier trailers/other trailers for some of these films - I picked the ones I wanted to show.
  • Next time I might take requests in advance and show a couple of those (vetting...).
  • I did mention to the assembled crowd, while switching from one trailer to the next, the book connections of the trailers.  What cinema doesn't have advertising??
  • The sound was up, of necessity: as of course you realise, one MUST comment throughout any trailer to one's friends.
  • I'm not aware of any students whose work was disadvantaged by this; if any had needed a quieter section, we would have pointed them in the direction of the senior study upstairs (which has closing doors).  Mostly, our library lunchtimes are busy and not silent (keeping up to 150 kids silent for 50 minutes?  You need more than a credit card for that one - priceless!), but since this was an extra-loud treat, I figured, what the heck!
  • Cost?  Nothing, as long as you have the equipment (as an increasing number of libraries do, or to which they have access) and take the time to set it up (and lookee, I had to invent my list and I've given it to you free!).
If you have any other book-related trailers to suggest, suggest away!  These are almost all on Trailerspy, as this site doesn't usually have fanmade trailers (which are like rabbits to the power of ten on YouTube, even if you try to search to exclude them), and it may be unblocked where YouTube is blocked on some school systems.
There are a lot of upcoming literary adaptations, though - I was surprised how many. This was another way to show the library as being a 'happening' place where good stuff goes on and it's fun to be.  It would have been impossible before the days of direct projectors or the internet etc - but now, there is fun to be had!  Certainly this also encourages reading of the books - kids will often ask for the book after seeing a trailer.
Here's how it looked:

As you can see, the layout of our library (and configuration of the light switches) lets this one area become dark (often useful in class time to focus attention on the big screen).  Before you think, well, MY library doesn't do that...we have a screen/tablet, not an interactive whiteboard, so the screen (electric, an idea I was so grateful to be able to borrow from Rooty Hill HS) is only down when in use (otherwise the back area is out of sight).  Now if I had an interactive whiteboard...hey, isn't that a great billboard opportunity?  We make what we can of what we have.
The rather recognisable face on the screen is from the Buffy v. Edward mashup.  It was really fun for me to listen to the kids' assorted reactions to the various trailers (and you will see I neatly accommodated both Twilight lovers and Twilight haters!).
I didn't advertise this madly, as it was a test run.  Numbers grew by word of mouth over a couple of days as I mentioned it to regulars, and grew through the lunchtime.  Next time I'll use the library door noticeboard and maybe email to kids about it (ie. rewarding those who either visit the library or read their school email).  If we have student Sharepoint up by then (it's in the works), I will have a Library section there which I could use too.
As the kids were leaving the library, my school assistant tells me that lots were talking very happily about this, as being cool and fun and great and good.  Hurrah!  Think I'll keep it as a treat a couple of times a term, though, so it doesn't lose novelty value (and there are enough new trailers to show).  Since many films nowadays have more than one trailer (eg. Twilight had a teaser and two subsequent official trailers) you can use the same film/different trailer to fill out your list.
What do you think? - do leave a comment!  Could you try this in your library?  (Ask around the school for a a direct projector and a screen you could borrow, if you don't have these or an interactive whiteboard in your library).
PS.  Since 42 is the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything**...I'm not sure that this GIFSL (am I really up to 42 of them???) is that answer.  But by golly it was fun to do, for the library staff as well as the kids.  Everybody happy!

*GIFSL = Good Ideas For School Libraries
** as is known to readers of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Friday, August 28, 2009

Trailer: Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Darren Shan's Cirque du Freak series (a character with the same name as the author, Darren Shan, finds himself involved with vampires - the series has rather more of a horror edge than some of the vampiric teenfic around) has been found a steady and enthusiastic readership for the last year or so.  It's a series of twelve books, which you can buy as individual slim volumes or as three-books-in-one cover thicker volumes (and nary a student has been deterred by their doorstoppery). (Both links in this paragraph will take you to Darren Shan's site).
The film is on the way, my friends (you're not surprised, are you?).  John C. Reilly, who in better roles is a very strong character actor, looks like he's relishing the opportunity to be a vampire... While the production company is probably relishing the opportunity for a franchise.  The first film seems to be called Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant or just The Vampire's Assistant.  Either way, I showed this trailer to some kids one lunchtime, and they were DESPERATE to get their hands on the books (you have them in the library, Miss?  WHERE?).


URL for the above link:
It's due out in Australia in early January 2010 (it's an October 2009 release in the US).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Temeraire Book 6: Australia! (& film news)

If, like us here, you rather love the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik (the Napoleonic Wars with an aerial corps of dragons, fabulous alternative history), and read the first five and wondered when book 6 was coming....
Northern hemisphere summer of 2010, is the story. 
AND, frillingly for us in Oz, Temeraire and Captain Will Laurence's adventures in book six take place in the colony of New South Wales (the early decades of white settlement in Australia).  Novik's editor has some more information and pictures in this blog entry and Novik has a brief mention in her intermittent LiveJournal here.
Peter Jackson (yup, the Lord of the Rings director) has the film rights, but that project looks to be in very early stages.
I've been listening to the unabridged audio books of these on my daily commute and enjoying them hugely.
In order the books are:
  • Temeraire (also published as His Majesty's Dragon)
  • Throne of Jade
  • Black Powder War
  • Empire of Ivory
  • Victory of Eagles
There is a compilation of the first three coming out in hardback later this year under the title, On His Majesty's Service.
Just last week I put Temeraire in the hands of a Year 9 boy who'd devoured the Ken Catran 'Moran' books and wanted more 'war fiction'.  He started devouring this, and was very happy.
PS. The above picture isn't Temeraire (but when the film comes out, I bet you will be able to buy figures of the dragons...) it was a convenient dragon-in-residence and gives you an illustration for this blog entry.

PPS I will add more info on Temeraire books/film as I know them, so search "temeraire" or "novik" on this blog (search window top left) to find more.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

GIFSL*: 40. Signage: Welcome

Of course you welcome people to your library - don't you?
We recently added a WELCOME sign.
I could, of course, try telling you that we commissioned this banner at tremendous expense, the aqua colour chosen to match the foyer, and so forth and so on.
Trouble is, if you've been reading this blog for any time at all, you'd be calling me a liar and, fixing me with THAT sort of beady eye, asking me for the truth.
Remember the floor cushions we made from banners?  The banners came from Reverse Garbage, which had them from The Rocks Authority (for those to whom this is mysterious, The Rocks is one of the most historic areas of white settlement Sydney, and houses museums and encourages tourism - it's on the southern end of the Harbour Bridge.  So it's a place where banners happen, and clearly an Authority run by wise good people who send their banners to Reverse Garbage when they've finished with them, so their banners will find new homes). 
Where was I?
Ah yes, at Reverse Garbage, hauling through the banner box in search of treasure.  Not only did I find the purple and green banners which became floor cushions, but also a couple of these WELCOME banners (and nary a mention of the Rocks on them anywhere).
Oh, by the way, I took all the ones I found while I was there.  Reverse Garbage is the kind of place where you don't know what you're going to find until you find it, and then you snaffle it because it won't be there next time.  We hung this from one of the rafters using self-adhesive hook/loop tape (Velcro).  And it will have a longer life recycled to greet those coming to its new home.  (Even if, because was hung vertically at the Rocks, the word WELCOME on the back is upside down...!).
There is, however, nothing at all to stop you finding all sorts of ways to WELCOME people into your school library.  Is there?  Go outside your library, walk in and see when you notice the first signs of welcome (whether they're signs or something else).  Can you improve on what's there now?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The happy life of teacher librarians: shhhhhhhhhh, they're reading....

Wednesday afternoon last week. 
Fiction area booked for both periods this afternoon, so at the end of lunch we put out the books I'd selected earlier, all around the tables in fiction.  Face up, an easy place for students without a book to begin.  The array is never tidy at the end of a lesson - it's always been investigated and explored, just as we hope it will be.  The birdseed attracting the birds...

First period after lunch: a year 9 English class in the fiction area and the reading retreat.  Reading quietly.  (The class downstairs on the computers was being quiet too, so peace reigned).  Students were sprawled on chairs, on the floor, with the slightly boneless look of those who are relaxed and gone away into their stories.  Four students especially happy because they won the hot chocolate draw (for being good, they get their names in the hat).  This is one of the classes which comes every fortnight (and these teachers now supply the hot chocolate for their own classes, we do the foam cups and hot water).
Next period, the last of the day: two Year 8 English classes, one in fiction/reading retreat, the other occupying downstairs (a third booked class for the computers ended up not arriving, which might have been A Good Thing).  And, about ten minutes into the period, you could have heard a pin drop.  The downstairs students had the floor pillows we'd made, and therefore felt free to sprawl comfortably over floor and against walls and bookshelves - which was just fine.  They're not a regular class (yet...), but I introduced their teacher to the hot chocolate idea, and she was happy to run with it.  Her kids were very happy too. (I supplied the hot chocolate).  The other teacher and class are fortnightly regulars.  In that class, while there are still a few fidgettys, by and large it's definitely possible to see how they have learned to settle to reading, and to enjoy settling to reading.  Four students from each class sipping hot chocolate, very pleased.
It was just lovely to see.  Another episode in the happy life of teacher librarians.
Go on.  Write up one of your episodes in your happy life as a teacher librarian, and see the good things you've made happen for your kids in your school.  Because you surely have, and it's good to recognise what you've achieved.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Twilight: New Moon: second trailer (Meet Jacob Black)

Haven't yet found it on YouTube or TrailerSpy, but here's a link to Rotten Tomatoes with the second New Moon trailer (Meet Jacob Black) and there is also there a link to the shorter second teaser trailer (a shorter version of the MJB one).

Won't the kids at school love to see this?  Mine are besotted...

LATER: OK, here's the TrailerSpy version of the MJB one:




Friday, August 21, 2009

The happy life of teacher librarians: Joern Utzon's finest work

Here's something I learned from a student's work today: Joern Utzon designed the Oprah House for Sydney.

Yup.  Always something new to learn in the happy life of teacher librarians.

Also, another student tried to persuade me that the senior study was haunted.  But I talked her out of it.  Although I must admit that this situation was never actually covered in any of my tertiary studies on teaching or teacher librarianship.



The Lovely Bones - Trailer

If you've read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, you may not know it's been Peter Jackson(Lord of the Rings director)'s next project, and a while in the making.

Tripped over a trailer for this (it's a Boxing Day release in Australia).

TrailerSpy trailer page:

Peter Jackson's also involved in the film version of Naomi Novik's Temeraire (aka His Majesty's Dragon), which is currently in pre-production (ie. don't hold your breath, but one day...).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are: news and links

Ah, the book that became a film that became a different book.  I've had links on this blog to the teaser trailer and longer trailer of the upcoming Spike Jonze film of Maurice Sendak's book.  Given that the book is a picture book, of limited words, it's hardly surprising that a feature film includes a few more words.  And that therefore, the book that became a film becomes a novelisation, Wild Things, loosely based on the picture book.

This is limited faux-fur edition - there will be an unfuzzy one too.  I learned about this at EW's book blog, Shelf Life here (also the source of the image).  They also have a link to an excerpt from Dave Eggers' novelisation, published by the New Yorker (read it Max At Sea here or click here for all eight pages on a single web page.).  One tiny excerpt:
So he had a choice. Would he stay behind the curtain and think about things, marinate in his own confusion, or would he put on his white fur suit and howl and scratch and make it known who was boss of this house and of all the world known and unknown?
I'm looking forward to this film! - and so are many of the kids.
Read an interview with Dave Eggers in the New Yorker here.
Here's the film's official site at Warner Bros, where you can find the trailers and this poster:
The film's director, Spike Jonze, has also established a website/blog related to the film, called We Love You So.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The happy life of teacher librarians: MISS, CHEWBACCA IS DEAD!

Note: They are not so distracted by their outrage as to move very far from the heater in my office on this nippy morning, but outraged they are.

"Miss, CHEWBACCA IS DEAD!  Did you know that?"

Since my knowledge of the Star Wars oeuvre is mostly limited to the first three films released, as being the Star Wars Of My Youth, I can truthfully say, "No, I didn't know."

It gets worse.  Much much worse.  "And Miss, they killed him off in a COMIC!!" - as though this atrocity is unforgivable - not bumping him off on the grandeur of film, but merely on an illustrated page. (The library doesn't have any comics of Star Wars, but we do have some of the novelisations that expand on what's been filmed).

It's hard to know how to respond to this, isn't it?  "Really?  Gosh!  How do you know?"

"Wookipedia, Miss."


"No, Wookipedia.  It's a Star Wars wiki."

Ah, so that's two things I've learned this morning.  I commiserate on this terrible news (actually the comic seems to have been published some time ago) and learn that the deed was due to Anakin Solo.  Who is the son of Han and Leia.  (Make that three things I've learned).

And then the bell went.  So they had to leave my heater.

For your delectation: Wikipedia on Chewbacca; Wookipedia on Chewbacca (a quick skim through the second alerts me to just how minimal my knowledge of the Star Wars universe is - what an immense mythology of the imagination has been spawned by George Lucas' first film, which I remember seeing in my late teens).

There's so much to learn, as a teacher, isn't there?



Diary of a Wimpy Kid 4: Dog Days

Junior boys in particular are eager readers of this series - it's one where I'd now habitually buy a couple of copies of a new title.  And here's the latest... another book and a film in the works.

Found it here (also the source of the screenshot, as will hardly surprise you.).



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mentoring Ideas: Planners to download free

As well as the PocketMod I blogged about the other day, I wanted to find some planner sheets for my mentor students to put on their walls.  They have school diary/planners, but waking up and SEEING that date looking back at you is therapeutic (or something).

Microsoft Word has templates you can download here for both calendars and planners.

Interestingly, a bit of googling showed me that some sites are blinds for naughty trojan virusy things, so take care. Some sites offer a reasonable amount of free material; some you find want a signup or only offer a sample before wanting dosh.  I've also aimed to avoid ones with logos etc.

Here are a few better ones I found (no particular order, look at each to see what suits you and your kids).  You may find that Mon-Sun is your preference - many US sites prefer Sun-Sat, but some offer both.  I found these links through this ehow list.

Sample Words has free undated weekly planner sheets in Microsoft Word and pdf form here.  Calendars (dated) here for a monthly layout. has free printable one month calendars here.  They also have weekly planners with dates Mon-Sun (eg. August 2009 here) and two month planners with space below for notes Sun-Sat (eg. August - September 2009 here).  Three months? (Aug/Sept/Oct is here). And for a whole lot more -  planner ideas, blank and dated, daily/weekly/monthly - click here.

The homeschooling community has an interest in planners and organisation - TheHomeSchoolMom has a bunch of links here.

Kristen's guide has planners here.

I haven't tried printing these all, but this serves as a collation for me of what seemed most useful - and by sharing it here, I hope you find it handy too.  If you have other sites/ideas to suggest, bung them in a comment!  I think I'll get my kidlets to print the three month one, so they develop an appreciation for the longer view.  At present their work habits seem to be feast or famine, a rather exhausting way of working.



Monday, August 17, 2009

Willing to be disturbed: Will Richardson on the conversation we need to have and the culture we need to develop

Brilliant blog entry from Will Richardson on the way forward for teaching and learning in the technological present and technological future.  I can't catch the whole thing in a single quote, but here's a section that resonated with me right now:

There is a great deal of “tinkering on the edges” when it comes to technology, districts that hope that if they incrementally add enough technology into the mix that somehow that equals change. I can’t tell you how many schools I’ve seen that have a whiteboard in every room yet have absolutely nothing different happening from a curriculum perspective. Old wine, new bottles.

That fundamental redefinition is hard. It takes an awareness on the part of leaders that the world is indeed changing and that current assessment regimes and requirements are becoming less and less relevant to the learning goals of the organization. It takes a vision to imagine what the change might look like, not to paint it with hard lines but to at least have the basic brushstrokes down. It takes a culture that celebrates learning not just among students but among teachers and front office personnel and administrators alike, what Phillip Schlechty calls a “learning organization.” It takes leadership that while admitting its own discomfort and uncertainty with these shifts is prescient and humble enough to know that the only way to deal with those uncertainties is to meet them full on and to support the messiness that will no doubt occur as the organization works through them. It takes time, years of time, maybe decades to effect these types of changes. It takes money and infrastructure. And I think, most importantly, it takes a plan that’s developed collaboratively with every constituency at the table, one that is constantly worked and reworked and adjusted in the process, but one that makes that long-term investment time well spent instead of time spinning wheels. And it takes more, even, than that.

Read it in full here.

ADDED LATER: and then read this entry from Camilla Elliot's blog, Edubeacon: The Innovation is the Network.

One of the greatest challenges expressed in discussions on change management in schools is the ‘getting it to happen’; the changing of old systems for new ones are more suited to today’s students and society. This podcast addresses the adoption of innovation and successful adoption of new methods within schools.

Go to the blog entry for details on the podcast (Andrew Hargardon on Innovation and Networking)



Friday, August 14, 2009

Mentoring ideas: The Pocket Mod

One of the tasks I undertake each year as part of the teaching staff here is to mentor Year 11 students.  We nominate how many students we are prepared to take (Year 11 runs at around 120 students, we have around 70 teachers) and the students give at least three choices of their preferred teachers.  The idea is that you are someone that the students can go to for advice, someone keeping an eye on them, supporting them, helping them generally with their studies etc.  You carry them through to the HSC, so it's a two year commitment.
This year I have three students, and so have decided to set up a more formal organisation for this than I have had in the past.  The teacher librarian is, of course, fraffly accessible throughout the school day, and three students at one period each per cycle... no.  Can do better than that; and they can benefit from each other, too.  So I've set up a fortnightly meeting time with them.  We had a meeting this week, and one issue that arose for each of them is organisation - planning, revision, and so forth.  It's usually an issue for Year 11, when expectations and the quantity/quality of work expected rise and it can be a little wee shock for them...

So they scoffed gingerbread and coffee/hot chocolate, and we talked of various things, and all went away with homework (including me).

While researching planners etc, I came across The PocketMod.  I'd forgotten about the PocketMod.  Great little idea, free, simple, customisable, fun.

You go to the Create page, choose the elements you want for each of the eight pages, and print it (oh, btw it seems to print to American A4 rather than Australian A4, the American size is just a tad smaller - fold on the lines and fold in the little extra bit.  Easy).  Then you have one A4 page with eight little pages.  This is where it gets clever.... (this is on the PocketMod site too).

Et voila!

We'll be able to have Mentoring With Origami next time.  What larks, Pip!

The customisable option is great too, so students can choose the configuration that works for them - lists, calendars, planners, and so forth.  Go play yourself and see how it works.  Simple.  Clever.  And, as they point out, recyclable (bung it in the paper recycling when you're done).

I'll mention this on the school staff blog too, so others can pick it up and use it with their mentor kids too.



PS. One reason I have a blog?  So I don't forget things.  Now I'll remember the PocketMod!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

One day

One day last week...
  • Arrive in the library, bag in my office, switch computer on
  • Take down all the organisation/furniture from last night's parent-teacher night
  • Direct traffic (ie. students volunteered) to put back all the library furniture in its right place
  • Run around roll call groups to organise distribution of new library cards
  • Pour a diet Coke over ice - ah the wonderful clink-crack of shattering ice! -  and smell the heady scent of the jonquils on the lunch table.  Double refreshment.
  • Check email
  • Search enquiry: it mutates from Olive Cotton to sunglasses photography.  Email the weblinks we found to the student who came in with the question.  Take a moment to rhapsodise about "Teacup Ballet", one of my favourite photographs.
  • Morning tea: posh today, white Castello cheese and seaweed crackers, to mark a colleague's return
  • Talk cheerfully to the general assistant/handyman, whose Eeyore impersonation is long-standing and (I suspect) ineradicable.  But gosh we appreciate what he does for the library
  • Visit a faculty at recess and talk about cabbages, kings, year advising, netbooks, cricket (the upcoming Ashes Test match), baby names, shoes, school gossip, using email to communicate with students, and more.  (Stun, I suspect, the young blokes in Science with my capacity for intelligent, up-to-date, informed commentary on cricket.  Ha! AND I can talk baby names.  And netbooks.  Triple ha!)
  • Organise attendance at a conference, getting signatures on approval and finance forms, phoning the organisers and making sure registration is submitted in time
  • Buy a sandwich for lunch from the canteen
  • Do some paperwork/the mail/etc.
  • I recently acquired a wall display cabinet (pinboard back) which another faculty didn't want.  Our first display in there is Twilightery - various articles/posters which can be safely admired by the kids and not vanish... so I put in the pieces I've collected so far.  Doesn't take long to be noticed, kids stopping to read.  Good!
  • Discuss some renumbering we're doing for biographies with my school assistant
  • Catch up with one of my mentor students and organise a meeting time (coffee is her tipple, she says in answer to my enquiry)
  • Make soothing noises in the direction of a stressed senior student, offering a listening ear, a wise advice and all the other things teachers offer every day to kids
  • Attend an emergency year meeting
  • Supervise the library at lunchtime, wrangling kids, books, kids, questions, kids, pointing out the absence of signs saying "RABBLE WANTED", checking computer use, pointing out that according to the signage it's a "READING LOUNGE" not a yapping lounge, loaning books, finding books, talking books, talking kid-cabbages and kings.
  • Put out an enticing assortment of books for a Year 8 English class in fiction.  Talk briefly to whole class, then with individuals - finding books, recommending books, recommending how to read books silently (mouth shut, book open is such a good start, sweetie).  Do the hot chocolate thing with this class - four happy kids sipping as they read.  Lending books, renewing books etc.
  • Catch up with another one of my mentor students and organise a meeting time (hot chocolate is her preference)
  • Vary the enticing assortment of books for the next period's Year 9 English class and spend the period between them, the other English class reading in the library and the class on the computers
  • Catch up with the third of my mentor students and organise a meeting time (in reply to 'coffee, tea or hot chocolate' he starts to answer as though he was talking to Starbucks, skinny double macchiato with arabica....  I point out that I'm not a Starbucks, nor is my name Gloria Jean, but that the coffee isn't Pablo so if he likes coffee, good, and optimism is a beautiful, if sometimes unrewarded, quality.  We exchange grins)
  • End of day bell.  Settle to work on in the quiet - staff blog, this blog, other school paperwork.  Several students have asked me to review their long writing projects for Extension 2 English.  One junior girl who's writing a novel asked if I would like to read some?  Of course! - but I find myself a tad distracted by the spelling gaffes which aren't spellchecker-fixable (eg. dam for damn) because they are correct spellings of other meanings/words.  Also, I'm not sure I realised I was saying yes to over 12,000 words.....(I think she said it was a quarter of what she'd written - admirable energy and commitment!).
  • I leave with the cleaners at six o'clock.  It's dark outside, and we have some cheerful banter on the way to the car park.  There are a number of eucalyptus trees around it, and in the night air (and maybe it's something seasonal, because it's not something I notice all the time) the astringent, refreshing scent of eucalyptus is evident with every indrawn breath.
  • I remember, on my way out, that lunch sandwich.  Eat it in the car on the long trip home, listening to the audiobook of Temeraire.
  • Home.
And, what, you may ask, is the point of documenting all this, apart from possible vanity?  Ah, but do it for your own day, and then take a look.  How is your time spent?  How much is planned, and how much is inevitably reactive, for in every day and every library people come through the door needing help/advice/assistance there and then?  I'm sure I'm not the only teacher librarian to arrive at the end of a busy day and wonder just what I got done, because it felt like I didn't stop...

Then pat yourself on the back.  Because teacher librarians do a great job!



PS. I didn't cheat - that really was one day last week...not a composite.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

GIFSL:* 39: Signage: Major areas

Sometimes you get so used to The Way Things Are, you don't get around to fresh library signage; but it was on our agenda for this year.  This is one of the signs we've made to signpost major library areas.  On a limited budget, they didn't cost lots, were within our scope to make and fit in with the 'look' of the library too.
The canvases came from a two dollar shop (Hot Dollar - a lot cheaper than art supply shop prices) and cost under $15 each (the signs are double sided, two canvases per sign).  The paint is left over from other painting in the library - aqua like the foyer for the reading retreat and nonfiction, blue like the fiction wall in fiction.
The font is the same as the painted walls in the library (we use the same font for all the word walls and library paperwork).
While we could have put just one word on the sign, larger, I wanted to have more than one, to include several ideas and maybe, for some kids, answer/get past the library jargon (eg. fiction/nonfiction).  Our reference is interfiled with nonfiction so the sign reflects this.
I also didn't want wonky fonts, pictures/images that could date etc etc.  Plain, classic, good.
picture books
reference books
reading retreat
These signs, and these word combinations© copyright Ruth Buchanan 2009.  All rights reserved.  Schools/teacher librarians please see the note at the end allowing you to use these. Apologies for the necessity of pointing this out... (Actually, the whole blog is copyright...)
What you need: two canvases for every sign (if you're hanging them as we did - one will do if you're putting them against a wall).  We used long ones 45cm x 90cm.  Painted with leftover house paint from the walls.  We then projected the words onto them with an overhead projector (same technique as the wall words), chalked the outlines (brushes away better than pencil, even if it's thicker) and carefully (you need a steady hand, hurrah for my school assistant with the steady hand and fine paintbrush!) painted the words (using folk art paint colours from our existing palette/collection).  We deliberately have some words lighter than others.  Because we wanted to.  Both sides of each sign are painted with the same words in the same colours.
The signs were screwed together, with white screwhead covers to hide the screws,  and we used cuphooks and lengths of black chain (Bunnings hardware was the source for all these items) to hang them (we liked black chain as being a tad classier than brass/steel).  We have, as you can see, beams from which to hang them.
The kids have made approving noises (only a couple have tried to dislodge them, dear little munchkins that they are) and we're happy with them too.  Nobody's asked me recently what 'fiction' or 'nonfiction' means, either... and in the reading retreat, I can point out that the sign doesn't say 'yapping', 'rabble wanted' or various other things contrary to the sign's content...
*GIFSL = good ideas for school libraries. 
Please acknowledge the source of this original idea if you use it elsewhere, or blog/publicise your version - thanks!  Nonprofit use by schools/libraries is welcome: commercial organisations/enterprises please note that this combination of words is copyright and reproduction in any way requires written permission from the copyright holder.

Where the Wild Things Are - full theatrical trailer

Thanks to Alien Onion, I learned about this one.  The teaser trailer had fewer words - this one gives a greater idea of how they've expanded the picture book to make a feature film.  Looking forward to it!

TrailerSpy link for the video above:



Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sense and Sensibility and Sea-Monsters. Really.

After Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, comes Sense and Sensibility and Sea-Monsters. 

What, you don't believe me? (PPZ has been haunting the best seller lists...)


And here I've been making jokes about how there may be the bonking line in vampire fiction (dividing what's possible for a school library and what's less possible), but hey, nobody's writing books about giant squid that give the bonking line the least tremor.  Hoist by my own petard.

But wait, there's more:

Source of the image, info and video:

YouTube link for the video:

Cheers (I think)


Monday, August 10, 2009

E-books - containers unbound? cloud books?

Helene Blowers has a thought-provoking entry on her blog, Library Bytes, about e-books.

Here's just a snippet:

When I hear folks talk about the future of the book and wonder how libraries with thrive with this new digital age, I can’t help but think that we’re being short sighted when we only talk about the digital book’s impact to reading and the miss the greater opportunity that this format can provide, which is the networked creation and sharing of new knowledge.

Reading at its core is a consumption activity that at it’s best is a solitary pursuit. When we read, we consume and amass someone else’s knowledge and stories. For many of us it’s an escape from our own day-to-day by providing the ability to jump inside someone else’s head. The jump from print to digital actually doesn’t change any of this. Reading is still reading, an activity centered on the consumption and transfer of knowledge.

However, when I think about the book as digital format, I see a much bigger perspective unfolding. Not only is knowledge no longer bound to its physical format, it’s no longer bound as medium designed primarily for consumption. With digital formats offering the ability to connect with other readers (consumers you might even say) over networked platforms, the consumption of knowledge can actually become a participatory activity resulting in the creation and sharing of new knowledge.

But you really should go over there and read "Future of the book is not a container question" in full.  Helene's blog is one I regularly read and from which I always take something new. Will Richardson has an article on 'cloud books' here - he's another blogger worth reading regularly.

What I wonder, about 'books' one can read where others have commented, where the text is not only the author's, but that plus the input of others, is whether I want the input of others... speaking for myself, I'm not ackershully expecially interested if someone says, "darcy is COOL" in the marginalia of an 'unbound' e-copy of P&P.  Maybe with nonfiction it could be different.  Although I was involved in an online library conference a while back, and the comments of other participants on the presentations there didn't seem, to me, to add much to my experience of it - no offence meant to other participants.  And what if I'm reading some fabulous suspenseful and some spoilsport reader of the same e-copy has commented and gives away a key plot point?  How do you choose which comments to accept/see?

Maybe it's like graphic novels - I just haven't got them yet, they seem to me less subtle, slower, less engaging than prose/word books.  Of course I have them in the library, and they have their mad enthusiasts, and that's all well and good.

If "we read to know we are not alone" (CS Lewis) then I'm still not sure where my own boundaries are.




Friday, August 7, 2009

The happy life of teacher librarians: How to have a Top Weekend

I have been advised today by students on exactly how you can have a Top Weekend.  Determined that my TL colleagues don't miss out on this exciting program, it's detailed below:

  • Plan a girlie sleepover.
  • Watch Twilight on DVD, for the umpteenth time, because you can and why not????? and pore over every poster and article you've been able to find on the film and New Moon (they love the new cabinet of Twilight articles/pictures)
  • Menu (to be consumed between the hours of 1am and 3am): pizza, slushies, icecream, chocolate and lollies.
  • Dance (in a select location where loud music isn't an issue).

Darn, and I had planned another program entirely.  Oddly enough, I'll be sticking to it, rather than the one above.  Apart from anything else, I'm too old to have a cast iron stomach...!!

This is why teenagers are so entertaining.  They know EVERYTHING. (As one of the cartoons on my office door advises, I'm also too old to know everything.)

I was weak enough to email them some extra Twilight links for more pics/articles.  They were VERY happy!



Twilight manga/graphic novel

What, you thought it wouldn't happen?  Foolish, foolish thought! More info from EW here (also the source of the screenshot above).  No release date that I've yet found, but I'm sure you won't be able to miss it when it is closer to its publication date...



Thursday, August 6, 2009

The happy life of teacher librarians: Stitch a librarian...

Should you need some stitchery to keep you occupied in those lonely hours when you aren't at work...!!
Find it here (source of the above screenshot).
Cheers (amused ones),
PS Apologies to all the bloke librarians out there.  Let Sublime Stitching know what you'd like to see...
PPS.  She's better looking than Nancy Pearl, although she ticks a bunch of the same cliche boxes - bun TICK glasses TICK.  And are we really interchangeable with secretaries???

The Louvre: now in English

Now you can explore the online database of the Louvre, and more, in English.


Click here to explore.



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An interview with Shaun Tan

Michelle Pauli in The Guardian has a long, thoughtful exploratory interview with Shaun Tan, covering his life and work in engaging/illuminating detail.  Read it here.  I found this via a mention on Alien Onion, an excellent blog.

School Library Journal has a long, thorough and definitely worth reading review of Shaun Tan's work by Elizabeth Bird.

You know what? Don’t go asking me who this book is for. Don’t ask me what the age range is, or how you’re going to catalog it, or what kind of person you could give it to for a birthday present. You want an easy book that slots into your preconceived notions of what constitutes children’s literature? Well forget it, sister. This isn’t it. Tales from Outer Suburbia is a book for every human being you know, from the age of nine and up. It’s heartbreaking, and funny, and weird, and smart, and unlike any other book you’ve read up until this point in time. It’s what happens when someone tells you a dream they just had and you end up crying and laughing at the description all at once. It’s brilliant, and I’m inadequate to describe it to you, though I’ll do my best to try.

 Find it here.

I've mentioned his work admiringly before on this blog, and am still charmed that you can get a free .pdf from the publisher of the wonderful, strange, quirky, clever story Eric, from Tales from Suburban Road.  Go on.  Read it.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Skerricks in the world: word walls and other inspiration

As you can see from the blog header, and elsewhere in this blog, our word walls are an important part of the library, our billboards and statements of purpose. (And beautiful, and fun, and more - we love them and the kids like them too).  I was originally inspired by seeing work done by the Robin Hood library initiative in New York.

It was lovely to see, cruising around blogs in the bloglist over there on the right, that MissLibrarian (at ButYou'reTooLoudToBeALibrarian) has taken this idea and worked out how to use it in her different library space in the UK (hey, that's three continents - US, Australia, Europe!).  Take a look at progress on her word banners here.  Applause!

Jill at CLC Eltham painted a word wall in her library, inspired by ideas she found here - hers looks FANTASTIC!  See it here.

Fiona over at Reader's Random Ramblings has mentioned Skerricks a few times, too - thank you.  I was interested to read her thoughts on learning to be a teacher librarian here and 'what is a library?' here,  and she had some thoughts about whether audiobooks are 'reading' here.

Mrs Mac's extensive and varied ideas for Book Week 2009 (theme: Book Safari) also draw on ideas she's found here - thank you for the mention!

What I love most about this is the stew and soup and brew of ideas we are all sharing, passing around, working out in our own ways, the aha! moment of mine that becomes a fresh aha! moment in your hands, and then travels on its way to others.  I learn so much from others - and appreciate what I do learn, what inspires and encourages me - that it's just grand to be able to return the favour and be a part of the sharing culture of teacher librarianship.



Monday, August 3, 2009

The happy life of teacher librarians: the fashion edition

Part 1:

A group of Year 11 students were working on creating glossaries of design terms this morning - given the terms, and a pile of different dictionaries, so they can compare/contrast/come up with the best definition for each.

Hmmmm.  Dictionaries.  A tad distracting, as you may be aware.  Full of Exciting words, some rather Illicit.  Or Saucy.  Or, not to wrap it up in clean linen, Entrancingly RUDE.

They were hugely disappointed to discover that the word they pronounced FART-hingalley (I will leave it to you to wonder why the first syllable is emphasised, and what other words they might have been browsing in the F's... ) was not only one I knew (farthingale) but was also able to explain.  Ah.  Poor dears.  Still, they did discover the excitement of dictionaries, although how much progress they made on their glossaries, as opposed to how much they might have made...

Part 2:

In an article (in today's SMH Guide) about the second series of the ABC's The Librarians, actor Robyn Butler says she was delighted to re-open Frances O'Brien's wardrobe, a fashion style she calls "public servant stroke school teacher with a little kick to Community Aid Abroad.  And, it has to be said, comfortable."

Read it and weep.  This is the outsider view of our sartorial splendour as teacher librarians?  Sigh.

The happy, afashionable life of teacher librarians (but hey, she can speak for herself, I checked what I'd worn to work today and it was NOT in her parameters!!!) .



A free e-story: Boojum

A while ago I read the anthology of pirate stories, Fast Ships, Black Sails, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer: they've edited a number of anthologies in the fantasy/steampunk genres, generally pitched at an adult audience (which isn't to say the stories aren't good for kids, but is to say that the anthologies aren't constructed to eliminate that which might not be considered by some suitable for an adolescent audience).

My favourite story in this anthology, without a doubt, was Boojum by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear.  Black Alice is a space pirate, not a wet pirate, on a ship that is a creature (a boojum); it's a clever clever tale with a twist.  It was one I lent to senior Extension English students to look at as an idea of how a longer short piece of writing might be constructed (since a number of them were writing prose fiction for their major works).

And tootling around on Google in the hols, I discovered that of all the pirate stories in all the world, this one is available online (as described in this blog entry) as an e-story pdf,  Hurrah!  Click here to read BOOJUM!

It has a couple of bits of contextual coarse language in it, so if that's a concern for you read it first before sharing with kids (read it anyway, just because it's good).  It's high school level in its ideas, rather than primary school.  But if you're looking for an e-example of a story to share, try this.