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.



Monday, May 1, 2017

Peace Bridge

Today’s recommended title will be of particular interest to Calgarians, Albertans and Canadians.



Bridges: an Introduction to Ten Great Bridges and Their Designers by Didier Cornille introduces us to 10 bridges from various countries spanning the globe providing a brief entry about the architects who designed them and sometimes a little about the construction process.  Each bridge has a something distinct about it, whether it was for a new construction process, a new design, extraordinary length, or a design feature.

Among the selected few is Calgary’s own Peace Bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava (2012).

The other bridges include:
Iron Bridge designed by Thomas Farnolls Pritchard (England, 1779)
Brooklyn Bridge designed by John Roebling, Washington Roebling and Emily Warren (United States, 1883)
Forth Bridge designed by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker (Scotland, 1890)
Plougastel Bridge designed by Eugene Freyssinet (France, 1930)
Sydney Harbour Bridge designed by John Jacob Crew Bradfield (Australia, 1932)
Golden Gate Bridge designed by Joseph Baermann Strauss (United States, 1937)
Rio-Niteroi Bridge designed by Jean Muller (Brasil, 1974)
Millau Viaduct designed by Norman Foster and Michel Virlogeux (France, 2004)
Mucem Footbridge designed by Rudy Ricciotti (France, 2013)

Each entry is very brief. I love the format of the book, which is oversized and read turned on its side so we are flipping the pages up. This is great for giving the reader a sense of length, giving the illustrations of each bridge lots of room to span the page. The details usually include a little information about the designer including other projects they’ve been involved in and most often specifics about the construction process.  The illustrations are simple, uncluttered and placed on pages with lots of white space.

The entry for the Peace Bridge in Calgary features several of Calatrava’s other structures giving only two short pages dedicated to the Peace Bridge itself. However cool looking this bridge there is not a lot of information about it in terms of construction.

Another thing I noticed is that with the exception of Emily Warren, who stepped in when her husband died building the Brooklyn Bridge there are no women featured here. There have to be some noteworthy bridges designed by women, right?


This book will be of interest to teachers for science (building things, designing), STEM, and social studies (Alberta, Canada, local politics). I would recommend this for middle grades.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sync for summertime listening




SYNC: Audiobooks for Teens returns for another summer with a fantastic line up of YA titles -- all for FREE!  

If you haven't already done so, set up an account with your email and every week you'll be notified about the release of two, theme-based pair of books that you can download for free. And keep forever. I think the selection looks amazing.  Enjoy!


Here's the line up starting this Thursday (April 27th):

Apr.27th    The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
                 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

May 4th     Feed by M.T. Anderson
                 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

May 11th    Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
                  Teenage Diaries: Then and Now by Radio Diaries

May 18th    The Gathering: Shadow House, Book 1 by Dan Poblock
                   In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America by Nita
                   Belles

May 25th    Freakling by Lana Krumwiede
Go to Sync
                   Boy by Anna Ziegler

June 1st     Beast by Donna Jo Napoli
                  Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay

June 8th      Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
                    If I Run by Terri Blackstock

June 15th    The Souls of Black Folk 
                   by W.E.B. Du Bois
                   The Red Umbrella 
                   by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

June 22nd   The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other 
                    Stories by Terry Pratchett
                    The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff

June 29       American Night: The Ballad of Juan
                   Jose by Richard Montoya
                    My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson

July 6th        Rebuttal by Jyotsna Hariharan
                    Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer

July 13th     The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker
                   Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall

July 20th     Gone: Gone Series, book 1 by Michael Grant
                   The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth

Jult 27th      Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
                   Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott

Aug. 3rd      In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer 
                   by Irene Gut Opdyke
                   Betweeen Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Aug. 10th    Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
                   Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka






Monday, April 10, 2017

Perfectly illustrated information


Animals by the Numbers: a book of animal infographics by Steve Jenkins is well worth picking up for teaching both science and math for grades 2-7.

As is Steve Jenkins’ typical MO (and stated in the title) this book is all about the animal world that he finds fascinating, giving us tons of statistical information as infographics. I keep waiting to have that ‘been there, done that’ feeling when Jenkins comes out with a new book but it's yet to come. He continues to find fresh ways to introduce us to the endlessly fascinating natural world.

And what’s not to be enthralled by?

Whether he’s looking at the big picture (invertebrates vs vertebrates or the number of species such as 5,500 mammals vs 1 million species of insects) or the finer details (size, speed, life spans, heartbeats, tongue size, amount of sleep) he presents the numbers in captivating graphs and charts.  And when you’re a math-a-phob like me, that says a lot.

Steve Jenkins has an amazing ability to capture and hold the interest of his readers by looking at ranges of animals, comparing and contrasting characteristics and behaviours that illustrate just how nuanced, varied and adaptive the animal kingdom is. Comparing humans in some cases certainly may put us in our place. Compare the biomass of all the humans in the world, 350 million tons to that of all insects, 100 billion tons and you can see what I mean.

The illustrations are composed of paper cut outs and paired with various types of pie, flow and bar charts, histograms, pictograms and graphs. These representations are clear and easy to understand.  He finds ways to make each topic relatable to basic knowledge levels. For instance when comparing the loudness level between species he includes noises produced by humans too such as those from lawn mowers, chainsaws, firetrucks or jet planes. Did you know that a cicada  produces the same level as noise as a firetruck? Or, that a bulldog bat makes a sound that falls in the same range as a jet plane?

I highly recommend this addition to Steve Jenkins' body of work for any classroom.  Those interested in animals and nature will be captivated

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