Monday, June 19, 2017

World Refugee Day

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 is the United Nation’s designated day for commemorating refugees who leave their home countries under duress. These are everyday folks seeking safe living conditions and opportunities to improve their lives and those of their children.

This is World Refugee Day

In recognition of this day, I’m featuring the amazing book, Stepping Stones: a refugee family’s journey by Margriet Ruurs, artwork by Nizar Ali Badr.


There are a number of reasons why I think this book is amazing

First, what’s going to catch your eye are the illustrations. These have been composed from stones. The composer is a Syrian artist, still living in Syria. The author stumbled across his artwork on Facebook and it inspired her to want to create a story reflecting the refugee experience. She also wanted to use Nizar Ali Badr’s artwork. Though composed of beach-found rocks, the artistry of the images creates scenes of everyday life and events that often occur when people are fleeing war. The stones convey movement and contributes to the narrative in an interesting and unique way.

Next, is reading the forward. The forward tells of the extraordinary lengths Margriet Ruur went to contact Nizar Ali Badr and the amazing collaboration that went into this book.

And then, there’s the story. This is a story that expresses the devastating circumstances that makes a family undertake a perilous journey from their home looking for a life of peace, allowing them and their children to prosper.

The text is in English and Arabic.


I highly recommend Stepping Stones for elementary grades for discussing current events in social studies and for the inspiring artwork.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Summer reading - Graphic novels

Recently, I was asked for some recommendations for summer reading. More specifically, for a 9 year-old boy who was really into graphic novels.

Since we’re heading into that time when parents are concerned their children won’t keep up with reading and may even regress a degree or two, I thought I’d pull together suggestions for all grade levels.

And because I love graphic novels that’s where I’ll start.

In working out this list, I realized it was getting a little long so decided to focus on those titles that I’ve not blogged about before. However, excluding those titles means it’s possible that you would miss some great books. At the end of each section, I’ll just list the titles and authors so you can look them up on my blog or through another source to find out more about them.

Elementary – Grades 1-4

Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
Four typical antiheroes with a mission to change the world's perception about their 'badness'. They're really just misunderstood? Isn't that right Mr. Big Bad Wolf? Hilarious.



Two sisters pass a rainy day playing and experiencing typical ups and downs of passing time together.



Little Robot by Ben Hatke
An adventurous little girl befriends and protects a little robot from other robots who have some dark reason for pursuing them.


Previously blogged about: Babymouse (series) by Jennifer Holm; 



Middle grades – Grades 4/5-7



Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola
Masha, a resourceful girl takes on an apprenticeship with Baba Yaga, a witch with a terrible reputation. Masha undertakes several challenges that enable her to face her own family-related issues. Great illustrations.




Princeless by Jeremy Whitley
Adrienne is a princess with attitude not to mention a dragon who gives good back up when the going-gets-tough. This is one princess who's not waiting around to be rescued.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Astrid takes on the challenging sport of roller derby which provides an outlet for her pre-teen woes when she and her best friend start to grow apart. Really strong character, story-line and illustrations.

 A nonfiction series focused on high interest topics such as dinosaurs, volcanoes or bats. 

Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang
A couple of kids use their computer coding abilities to figure out mysterious happenings at their school.


Previously blogged about: Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale; Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell; Cardboard by Doug TenNapel; Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel; Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi.


Secondary – Grades 8-12

Groot byJeff Loveness
Yes, this is the character from the Guardians of the Galaxy. Rocket and Groot are on the equivalent of a road trip but in space. Rocket is kidnapped and it's up to Groot to rescue him. Fun adventure and antics make this an enjoyable read. (Grades 7 and up)

Just So Happens by Fumio Obata
London-based Yumiko is drawn back to Japan when her father dies. Her visit home is an emotional one as she deals with her grief and tries to understand her relationship with her father.


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
An interesting fantasy with a shapeshifter with sometimes questionable motives for helping out the hero. (Grades 7 and up)


If you're into short stories this anthology, written and illustrated by aboriginals from around North America will be one to consider. The stories are diverse in subjects, time periods and illustration styles. 

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman
This adaptation, based on the novel, is not your average story of star-crossed lovers separated by societal strictures. 


Rust series by Royden Lepp
Set in a futuristic world, where Jet, a robot warrior questions his identity and purpose. He happens upon the Taylors, struggling to keep the family farm going and who have their own interests in learning more about Jet. Illustrations are amazing and evocative of World War I and convey the action scenes perfectly.



The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North
Doreen Green, otherwise known as Squirrel Girl, superhero and friend to Tony Stark, is starting college. In addition to settling into campus life, making friends, and handling classes, she must continue to battle villians of varying degrees from muggers to Galactus, Devourer of Worlds. Great comedic vibe.




Previously blogged about: Shadow Hero by Gene ; Ms Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson.


For additional titles please visit my Goodreads page and check out other graphic novels I’ve read.

Also, if you go to the Doucette Library’s catalogue and type in graphic novels as a keyword search you will find a list of graphic novels found in this library.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Guest blogger: Summertime Professional Reading

Today's blog recommends two books that will bring you up to speed on the impact of the maker movement in schools. Paula Hollohan is the Instructional Technologies & Information Specialist in the Doucette Library who keeps up with technology trends in education. Check in with Paula's blog, Doucette Ed Tech if you'd like to keep up with all sorts of cool and interesting, wide-ranging topics.

I, too, will be coming up with some summertime reading recommendations in about two weeks - NOT focused on technology, as you might expect. So stay tuned for fiction and nonfiction reads whether you're at the  beach, cabin, or in the back garden. There will be something for everyone.

Tammy

Summer Reading

By: Paula Hollohan

Summer is a time to re-energize and have some time for new learning in a more relaxed atmosphere.  That’s everything I love about summer reading except that the location can and be the beach or the deck.  Set your sights on something you are interested in, get a big set of post it notes and away you go.

This summer, I am recommending two reads to reinforce the notion of the “Maker Mindset.”
Both books, while not published this year, are new enough to speak to the notion of making embedded in curriculum and in school culture more completely than a room called a “Maker Space” ever could be.  That is not to say that having a makerspace in any facility that you educate in is not a great bonus but without a leading edge, expensive maker space, any educator can still advance the notion of making in any environment.



Beginning with Chapter 1, “We are all Makers,” this book, published in 2016, gives a generous overview of the maker movement and some specifics about how it fits in education and more generally, how it is changing the real world.  Chapter 7 specifically addresses the nature and conditions needed to adopt a “maker mindset.”  This book is a quick read to give educators a great foundation in what maker is and what is looks like within each community.



This book speaks directly to educators no matter what stage they are at in embracing the maker movement.  He addresses, because of his own experience, just how difficult it is to lead a revolution in a school system.  However, the information contained here will give educators much to talk and think about.  Many questions will be addressed, like how to create meaningful learning while having innovative students and educators leading the way.

Have a great summer and allow these two great books to help inform your practice in September.


Both books are currently being catalogued and will shortly be available in the Doucette Library.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Interest in Pinterest

Today's blog falls in the category of a--

 PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT.


Many of you know that I curate Pinterest boards that list books found in the Doucette Library and tie-in with the Alberta Education curriculum.  My focus has been mostly on elementary science, social studies and math. For science and social studies, I have created individual boards for every grade and every topic. For math, I did not organize resources according to individual grade level but rather grouped books by topic such as Number Sense, Measurement, Patterns and so on. I've included fiction and nonfiction books, DVDs and a few websites on these boards.

Recently, I've been busy adding more resources to these boards to keep them up-to-date and more complete.

I've also added several new boards based on requests by student-teachers around specific topics. These are Fractured and Adapted Fairy Tales and Activists and Activism K-6 and Activists and Activitism 7-12.

Also, I've just added several boards that correspond with the social studies curriculum for grades 7 to 9. Again, each topic has it's own boards and include: 

   Canada: Origins, Histories and Movement of People 
7.1 Toward Confederation
7.2 Following Confederation: CanadianExpansions

   Historical Worldviews Examined
8.1 From Isolation to Adaptation: Japan
8.2 Origins of a Western Worldview:Renaissance Europe
8.3 Worldviews in Conflict: The Spanishand the Aztecs 

   Canada: Opportunities and Challenges
9.1 Issues for Canadians: Governanceand Rights
9.2 Issues for Canadians: EconomicSystems in Canada and the United States

These boards predominately list nonfiction resources but do include fiction when something was available.

I hope to add boards that will correspond to the junior high science curriculum later this summer.

If you have any recommendations for resources that correspond with these or any other curriculum topics, please drop me a line. I'm always keen to add resources to the Doucette collection that will connect with Alberta Education's curriculum.




Monday, May 15, 2017

Exploring the depths

Everyone loves a mystery, right?  And what’s more mysterious than regions and realms we can only imagine, know little about and rarely see.


by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski is a book that will captivate 8 to 12 year-olds easily and even older if kids (or adults) are into information presented in a highly visual and interesting format.



This oversized book is divided into two sections each starting from one of the covers and meeting in the middle. The reader views the book by turning it on its side. From one side we are introduced to the fascinating and mysterious world of what lies underwater. Though it includes lakes and sinkholes, the book predominately focuses on the ocean. Besides looking at the various plants and animals that live beneath water from shallow waters to the deepest known point, a great deal of information is given about human activities, as well. Like how we submerge ourselves using diving equipment, submarines, submersibles, or drilling platforms. The book starts with the shallowest levels of life and phenomena to those found deep, deep down underwater.


Flip the book around and we start to learn all about the wondrous worlds found under our feet. Again, there is a focus on plants and wildlife that depend on earth to survive. For example, I love the 2-page spread that illustrates the various depths to which tree roots grow.  I also found the illustrations showing the underground barrows for various animals fascinating. Here too, human activity is covered including transportation, mining, how we move water, sewage and other utilities, archaeology and paleontology digs. Then last part of this section has the cool geological features such as caves, volcanoes and the earth's structure.

There is a lot of information to be found in this book. The bite sized pieces of information make it highly accessible and easy for browsing. The format is very appealing and will work for more than one student viewing at a time.


Highly recommended.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Passel of animal books

Well, another academic school year is over. With exams finished up last week, we’re officially in ‘summer mode’ for the next 4 months. Fewer students around means it’s catch-up time here in the Doucette Library.

So I’m getting caught up with reading a backlog of picture books. I’ve read a fair number of animal books recently and I thought I’d give a few recommendations for the ones I liked best.

Starting with--

Not many Europeans knew what a rhinoceros looked like in the 1700s but Clara, an orphaned baby rhino changed that for many people. Brought from India by a Dutch sea captain to Europe, they traveled for 17 years to Holland, France, Italy, England and Germany entertaining people from all walks of life. I see this book as a great discussion starter and for research, too. How were animals treated in the past? What parts of Clara’s story have been ‘tinkered’ with? How much food does a rhino really need? There are lots of possibilities.

I love stories where animals, in dire straits, are given new leases on life such as described in this book.  We learn about three elephants from the Toronto Zoo who are moved to California to take up residence in a sanctuary. It’s quite a feat of organization and transportation to get Toka, Iringa and Thika to their new home and how they adjusted to a life outside a small, cold zoo enclosure.  I recommend this for elementary grades.

Turtles are endlessly fascinating creatures faced with a myriad of challenges for survival. One such challenge is getting to the ocean from their beach-sand nests. Along beaches where there has been significant development, lights from homes and hotels often mislead the baby turtles in the wrong direction, away from the ocean. This story focuses on the efforts of a young girl to save these turtles by having the people living along the beaches turn off their bright lights when the turtles are hatching. This has a great combination of science and social activism for upper elementary grades.

This one introduces us to the topic of bioluminescence featuring mostly deep ocean creatures. The photos are pretty amazing. Elementary students will likely find this one quite appealing.

Otters Love to Play by Jonathan London
There is something very appealing about otters – cute faces, lanky, bendy bodies and their playful behavior are irresistible.  Great book for early elementary grades about otter’s habitat and seasonal changes in behavior. Illustrations really give a good sense of their playful natures and body movements.


And, lastly—

This now extinct bird had at one time numbered in the hundreds of thousands in the North Atlantic. Outlined here are the conditions that came together over a period of time that contributed to the bird’s demise: namely the bird’s inability to fly, the northern waters they inhabited for cold water fish and few viable spots for laying and hatching eggs, climate change and human hunting (for food and collectability once it became rare). The author lays out the interconnectedness of these conditions, the impact of the birds on local peoples and their legacy. I highly recommend this for middle grades.



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