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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Rick Riordan

Middle Kingdom: Kapolei, Hawaii

The books that most delight middle school and junior high readers often straddle a “Middle Kingdom” ranging from upper middle grade to YA. Bookology columnist Lisa Bullard regularly visits the Middle Kingdom by viewing it through the eyes of a teacher or librarian. Bookology is delighted to celebrate the work of these educators who have built vital book encampments in the transitional territory of early adolescence.

This journey takes us to Kapolei Middle School in Kapolei, Hawaii, where Lisa talks with Library Media Specialist Carolyn H. Kirio.

Carolyn H. Kirio, Kapolei Middle SchoolLisa: What are three to five things our blog readers should know about your community, school, or library/media center?

Carolyn: Aloha! Greetings from our 50th State! Located in the Pacific Ocean, our state is made up of eight major islands and 124 islets, stretching in a 1,500-mile crescent from Kure Island in the west to the island of Hawaii in the east. Most of the state’s residents live on Oahu, and nearly ¾ of them reside in Honolulu, the state’s capital. Kapolei Middle School is located in Kapolei, a newly developed suburb on the west side of the island of Oahu. Our school services 1,450 sixth to eighth graders and is a year-round multitrack school.

Lisa: What recent changes or new elements are affecting the work you do with students?

Carolyn: Although it is not a recent change, our school is on a multitrack year-round schedule.  To accommodate our large school population, our students are divided into four tracks. This means that at any one time, three of the four tracks are attending school while the fourth is on intersession (vacation). Furthermore, our instructional cycle is a year-round education (YRE) pattern which offers us an alternative way to construct the school calendar. The rotation sequence follows a year-round 45/15 calendar where one track returns from vacation and one track leaves every 15 days. Our teachers do not have a classroom to call their own because they constantly rotate into the room vacated by the teacher leaving on intersession. The transition is completed in a single afternoon with the exchange of file cabinets, instructional supplies, and desks. After the dust settles, our school updates the room and phone lists to reflect the track change.

Kapolei Middle School, Carolyn H. Kirio

Besides being very confusing and chaotic, you might be wondering how this affects the library. Many times I attempt to do school-wide instruction or initiatives. What would normally take a week to complete teaching all classes stretches out to two or more based upon the number of students who need to cycle through, as well as the intersession that occurs for the track. Because timing is everything, I have enlisted technology to assist me in teaching. Using the strategy of flipped classroom instruction, I create many lessons in mp4 format and have them available on demand through our closed circuit and intranet system. The library has several dedicated stations that teachers can call up on demand. As time allows in their busy schedules, they can fit my lessons in throughout the day when it best fits within their course instruction. Some of the most-viewed segments include my lessons on bibliography instruction, recognizing and avoiding plagiarism, and book infomercials I create to get students excited about different titles in the collection.

Lisa: What five books (or series) are checked out most often by your middle school students?

Carolyn: This year has been a roller coaster as far as tracking which books are trending and which are not. Book-inspired movies and television shows have influenced book borrowing throughout the year. However, once the popularity of the show wanes, students quickly transition back to the writers who reliably create great reads. Narrowing it down, the five authors and their series that remain consistently popular include Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus), Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Rachel Renee Russell (Dork Diaries), R.L. Stine (Goosebumps), and Darren Shan (The Saga of Darren Shan/Cirque du Freak).

gr_hawaii_books

Lisa: What book(s) do you personally love to place into middle school students’ hands?

Cacy & Kiari and the Curse of the Ki'iCarolyn: On a daily basis I work as a literature matchmaker to pair students with potential books that they will connect with and enjoy. Engaging students in conversation, my goal is to discover what their personal interests are and what topics they are passionate about. Oftentimes I love to introduce students to Hawaiian historical fiction such as titles written by Graham Salisbury, who focuses on story lines and communities set in different parts of our state. Because characters and settings are familiar, students can easily understand and relate to his books. An exciting new book has recently been on my recommendation list: Cacy & Kiara and the Curse of the Ki`i (Hawaiian statue or idol) by Roy Chang. Roy is the author and illustrator and has skillfully crafted an adventure set in a world where our main characters interact with Hawaiian myths and legends. An intermediate school fine arts teacher, Roy knows what interests middle school kids and created a hybrid manga and chapter book that is an instant draw. I hope that his sequel will be out soon because students can’t wait to revisit Cacy and Kiara and embark on another journey filled with Hawaiian culture and mythology!

Lisa: If you had a new staffer starting tomorrow, what piece of advice would you be sure to give them?

Carolyn: Gee, where do I begin? Get ready for a bumpy ride! Some words of wisdom that would be shared would include:

  • Always keep students busy and engaged
  • Network with your surrounding school librarians and get peer support
  • Organize yourself and make a plan (immediate and short-term goals)
  • Get to know all the teachers and staff in your school
  • Model desired attitudes and behavior
  • Enlist the help of a teacher to collaborate with
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Everyday is a learning experience, just do your best
  • Find the time to laugh and have fun!

Lisa: What do you like most about working with middle schoolers?

Carolyn: No two days are ever the same! Students are filled with never-ending energy and questions. They keep you constantly on your toes and thinking outside of the box. Given the opportunity to grow and challenge themselves, they exceed expectations and surprise you with what they can produce.  

I laugh every day! It is such a weird stage in life for these kids, that if you can’t laugh with them, you will go insane. Middle schoolers have the ability to really push themselves, be independent learners, and tap into their creativity and curiosity. They are constantly questioning who they are, discovering what they can do, and testing where their boundaries lie. As a teacher it can be exciting and frustrating at the same time. They are what they are, which is, in short, growing up.  Still children at heart, they can’t help but want to learn and play, so why fight them? Join them!

Lisa: How have books or other things changed for Middle Kingdom readers during your time as a librarian?

Carolyn: I have been a librarian for 23 years. During this time I have seen the phasing out of the card catalog, floppy disks, and microfiche. I have seen computer storage increase from megabytes to terabytes, to archiving in the cloud. The Internet has made the world a smaller place, offering access to information, resources, and experts from around the globe, and with a click, universally translated into a familiar language that can be understood and comprehended by everyone. Recently technology has progressed and desktops have been replaced by the adoption of apps, mobile technology, and eBooks. Middle Kingdom readers have increased access to information, and libraries are now open virtually 24/7. With so much knowledge at their fingertips, it will be truly amazing to see what they discover and how their curiosity inspires this next generation of learners.

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Middle Kingdom: Albuquerque, New Mexico

The books that most delight middle school and junior high readers often straddle a “Middle Kingdom” ranging from upper middle grade to YA. Bookology columnist Lisa Bullard regularly visits the Middle Kingdom by viewing it through the eyes of a teacher or librarian. Bookology is delighted to celebrate the work of these educators who have built vital book encampments in the transitional territory of early adolescence.

This journey takes us to Albuquerque Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Lisa talks with librarian Jade Valenzuela.

Lisa: What are three to five things our blog readers should know about your community, school, or library/media center?

Jade ValenzuelaJade: Our school library is a large, multi-functional space with over 140,000 items and is a place students can come before, during and after school to study or have class, and to just hang out!

Lisa: What recent changes or new elements are affecting the work you do with students?

Jade: New school schedule, implementing a laptop program at the school, using new technologies like LibGuides and digital tools have changed the way I work with students, the latter in a very positive way.

Lisa: What five books (or series) are checked out most often by your middle school students?

Jade: Comic books like FoxTrot by Bill Amend. In the past couple of years, Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell, Divergent by Veronica Roth, the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, and Rick Riordan books. John Green, too.

Albquerque Academy reads

Lisa: What book(s) do you personally love to place into middle school students’ hands?

Skulduggery PleasantJade: Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy–one of my personal favorites that most kids haven’t heard of, but all love it after they read it. I love going through the shelves with students, talking with them about what they have read and what they would like to read and then I offer suggestions based on what they say. It is a very personalized process, and I just love to get students reading something they are interested in.

Lisa: What do you like most about working with middle schoolers?

Jade: The energy and enthusiasm. It can be exhausting sometimes, but I love seeing them light up and get excited about books and reading.

Lisa: Could you share some information about your most popular/successful/innovative program for promoting books and reading?

Jade: I do booktalks with middle grades, so I meet with classes and get to share books that I like and want to recommend. Our lower division also brings students up to the library for Independent Reading hours, where students just pick books and sit and read, and I am available to help them pick. Lots of books get checked out on these days! I also sometimes do displays to promote books.

Albuquerque Academy Simms Library

Lisa: How have books or other things changed for Middle Kingdom readers during your time as a librarian?

Jade: I have definitely noticed a shift toward digital media, not necessarily for reading, but just for everything–playing video games, watching YouTube, etc., seems to have taken over for many students as their favorite hobby. It is always interesting to me to see the trends, especially in my own community. One year, manga may be all the rage, then dystopian, then realistic. It is really interesting and hard to predict. Keeps me on my toes!

Lisa: What do you want your students to remember about your library in ten years?

Jade: I want them to remember it as a place they liked to come to, welcoming and safe, where they could find what they needed, get help, and leave happy.

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Middle Kingdom: Dartmouth, Massachusetts

The books that most delight middle school and junior high readers often straddle a “Middle Kingdom” ranging from upper middle grade to YA. Each month, Bookology columnist Lisa Bullard will visit the Middle Kingdom by viewing it through the eyes of a teacher or librarian. Bookology is delighted to celebrate the work of these educators who have built vital book encampments in the transitional territory of early adolescence.

This month’s journey takes us to Dartmouth Middle School in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, where Lisa talks with teacher librarian Laura Gardner.

Lisa: What are three to five things our blog readers should know about your community, school, or library/media center?

Laura: Our school library is busy. There are often three classes in at a time getting and reading books, doing research, creating multimedia projects using iPads/green screens. We have a game corner, lots of computers, the beginnings of a Makerspace, and space for collaborative work. All our students are required to have a free reading book at any given time and we are big believers in choice. Even our summer reading requirement involves choice.

Lisa: What five books (or series) are checked out most often?

Laura: Popular series this year include the Maze Runner and Eye of Minds series by James Dashner, everything by Sarah Dessen, the Spirit Animals series by Brandon Mull, and everything by Rick Riordan.

Lisa: What book(s) do you personally love to place into students’ hands?

Laura: I personally love to put good (sometimes sad) realistic fiction into kids’ hands. Some new favorites include Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (One for the Murphys was on our summer reading list last year and is very popular), Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff, Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Fourmile by Watt Key.

Lisa: What do you like most about working with middle school students?

Laura: Middle school students are the best! They change so much in the three years we have them, which I love. It’s so fun to see who they become by the time they leave us. Many of my students are often still comfortable being goofy on tech projects and I have lots of students who love to help out in the library. Here’s an article I wrote for SLJ on my student volunteer program.

Lisa: Could you share some information about your most popular/successful/innovative program for promoting books and reading?

Laura: Our summer reading program has been hugely successful over the last few years. Our students have a choice from 10-15 popular, fun books from four categories: realistic fiction, mysteries, historical fiction, and fantasy/science fiction. Our PTO and the district pay for the books and every student gets his/her choice before school ends. This summer we are even buying books for all the 7th and 8th grade teachers, and when we return in the fall we will have book club discussions for each book on the second day of school.

 

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Middle Kingdom: Shakopee, Minnesota

The books that most delight middle school and junior high readers often straddle a “Middle Kingdom” ranging from upper middle grade to YA. Each month, Bookology columnist Lisa Bullard will visit the Middle Kingdom by viewing it through the eyes of a teacher or librarian. Bookology is delighted to celebrate the work of these educators who have built vital book encampments in the transitional territory of early adolescence.

This month’s journey takes us to East Junior High in Shakopee, Minnesota, where Lisa talks with media specialist Amy Sticha.

Lisa: What are three to five things our blog readers should know about your community, school, or library/media center?

ph_shakopeeeastAmy: East Junior High is one of two junior high schools in Shakopee, Minnesota, a rapidly growing suburb of the Twin Cities. Because of our district’s growth over the past several years, we have gone through a lot of reconfiguration of grade levels at all of our buildings. Currently, our junior highs house students in grades 7-9, but with the passage of a referendum to build an addition to our high school a few weeks ago, we will be changing to grades 6-8 by 2018.

As a result of all this shuffling, the EJH library has been split twice in the last eight years to accommodate other schools’ libraries. It has been challenging to maintain a relevant collection with the loss of so many materials, but thanks to a supportive administration and community, we are in the process of adding technology like mediascapes, charging tables, Chromebook carts, and 1:1 iPads, and updating our district’s media centers to add makerspace areas and other spaces to stay current within the changing scope of a school library/media center space. I invite you to visit my media webpage

Lisa: What five books (or series) are checked out most often? 

Amy:

  • the Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
  • the Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans
  • the Brotherband Chronicles series by John Flanagan
  • the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

Lisa: What book(s) do you personally love to place into students’ hands?

Amy:

  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
  • Every Day by David Levithan
  • Swim the Fly by Don Calame
  • Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  • Emako Blue by Brenda Woods
  • Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Lisa: Could you share some information about your most popular/successful/innovative program for promoting books and reading?

Amy Sticha's list

Amy Sticha’s list

Amy: Promoting reading is probably one of my favorite things to do as a junior high media specialist.  In addition to book talks and displays, my para and I work closely together to come up with a variety of fun and interactive reading promotions throughout the year. We use Facebook and Twitter accounts to announce contests, special events, and updates about new books or what we are currently reading. I actually just finished putting up my favorite display of the year, which is our Top 10 Summer Must-Reads and is made up of my para’s and my favorite books we have read throughout the year and would suggest for fun summer reading. Both students and staff members around the school make comments about our lists every year. Several times over the last few hours today, I have looked up from my desk to see someone taking a pic of our lists with their phone. 

Para's List

Para’s List

Every month, we have a student book club that is led by a different staff member. At the beginning of each year, I ask for staff volunteers who would be interested in leading the club for one of the months of the school year. In preparation for the upcoming month’s book club, the staff member and I decide on which book they would like to choose, and students who participate get a free copy of the book and free breakfast at the two meetings held during the month. Some months have better participation than others, but overall, it is a fun way to show students that staff members read for pleasure outside of school, too.  

We also have a Tournament of the Books every March to coincide with the NCAA basketball tournaments. Thirty-two books take on each other in our annual tournament to see which one is chosen by our student body to be the ultimate winner. This year’s winner was The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.  

This year for the first time, we had a spring break reading competition during which we encouraged students to take pics of themselves reading in unique, strange, fun, or interesting places. Our overall winner took a pic of himself reading in front of a mountain range while visiting his grandparents in Arizona. This year we also participated in the Young Adults’ Choices project sponsored by the International Literacy Association and were introduced to a number of really great titles!  

We have a great time promoting reading to EJH students!

 

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Summer reading

Every good intention of posting every weekday … and then a vicious flu attacks and all plans go astray. Flu trumps blog. Now I know. One good thing to come out of having a week-long flu: my to-be-read pile isn’t as high as it once was. In fact, it brought back memories of a perfect […]

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On Your Bedside Table

Members have written to tell us about the books that are currently on their bedside tables. I’m in the midst of five books, so it’s good to gather more titles. Who knows when I’ll run out of something to read? (Is that the ground level question of the bookaholic?) From Laura Purdie Salas: After Ever […]

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