Monday, December 17, 2007

Miracle on 49th Street

On Friday, I happened to open Miracle on 49th Street by Mike Lupica before I was going to put it back on the shelf. I started to read a couple pages and soon I was hooked. I could tell it would have a feel-good ending , but it perfect for a holidays as the big scene takes place by the Christmas tree in New York City.

Here's the review I posted on my LibraryThing page:
Molly Parker's mom, Jen, has just lost her battle with cancer. Before she died, she gave Molly a series of letters. One of the letters reveals the identity of Molly's father, who happens to be none other than Josh Cameron, one of the biggest stars in the NBA.
Molly is determined to get to know Josh. She is resourceful, persistent, and sneaky when she feels it necessary. She develops a relationship with Josh that goes through a series of ups and downs. Molly is looking for family, and Josh doesn't really seem to believe her story.

This is a feel-good read that kept me turning pages to discover if Molly and Josh ever learned to accept each other and make peace. ( )

If you read this book, leave a comment about what you thought.

Image Citation
"Miracle on 49th Street cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 15 Dec. 2007 .

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Citing Images

Mrs. Oshinski's class has been doing exciting work on a class wiki to study microbes.
Part of the assignment requires students to include images on the wiki pages they are creating. After going through the developing pages, I noticed that there are many people who aren't fully citing their images. I made a screencast with step-by-step directions for citing images. I hope this helps. Students, please see me if you have questions or need assistance.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

2 down, 978 to go!

Mrs. Oshinski's classes have been working on a microbe research project. The students are building a wiki to share what they've learned about their particular microbe and the disease it causes.

As I walked through the lab today, Jack called me over as he was working on the computer. He said, "I'm really starting to like these databases." The students next to him turned around to agree to the sentiment. That just made my day!

And although those were the only two who expressed a new found appreciation for the quality and depth of information that can be found in databases, when I looked around the lab I saw that most of the students were taking notes and reading from the database resources that I had demonstrated the day before and linked into the wiki.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Book Fair is Coming

On Wednesday, 12/5 - Friday, 12/7, the book fair will be taking place in the Highland Learning Center during the school day. Students will be able to visit and shop with their LA/Lit classes.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Books We're Thankful For...

Highland students contributed books for which they are thankful to this sign in the Learning Center the week before Thanksgiving.

I clearly proved I need work on my drawing skills, after creating one of the world's strangest looking turkeys! This, however, did not stop the flow of great reads. A wide selection from children's books to classics to contemporary favorites was listed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Playing with DUMPR - a tool for altering digital photos

Custom Rubiks Cubes

So cool! I was able to upload a picture into dumpr and alter it into a number of formats. I, obviously, chose the Rubik's Cube. Then there were all kinds of applications where I could place my new picture. This blog post appeared without me having to create it at all. I went in to add this text after the fact.
I went in to look at the terms of use, and you have to be at least 13 to use the site.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mix It Up Day Celebration

Today was National Mix It Up Day. The idea behind the day, an effort promoted by, is to get teens to move outside their cliques and comfort zones in order to break down some of the social barriers between people in schools and society. Highland celebrated in a number of ways. The peer helpers did a fabulous job organizing activities and getting students to socialize during lunch with new people. Many teachers mixed it up during the day by teaching different classes and getting the opportunity to interact with students in new ways. The school's social workers did a great job organizing the day.

In the library, we celebrated by hosting a story corner where Mrs. Heaser and Mrs. Tanguay shared Umberto Eco's The Three Astronauts with visiting classes. The book tells the story of three humans and a Martian who discover that although they may speak different languages and have very different appearances, they have much in common underneath it all. There is also a display of fiction books that deal with themes of tolerance, respect, and awareness of other cultures in the Learning Center. Check it out!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Zen and the Art of Faking It

When I was at the ISLMA (Illinois School Library Media Association) Conference in Springfield, IL, a week ago, I picked up a couple of advanced reader copies from a publisher in the exhibit hall. One of the books was Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick. I started reading, and I got pulled into the story right away.

San Lee is new to the school and looking for his niche. After going through the pros and cons of a number of different possible identities, he becomes an accidental Zen master. He falls in love with Woody, a folk-singing beauty who he is paired up with for the social studies project. I REALLY liked the characters in this book. All of them, even the adults, were really interesting and managed to have depth. The book was written with a great sense of humor and heart.

I know many Highland students have read and enjoyed Sonnenblick's first novel, Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie. Those people will definitely want to check out Sonnenblick's latest.

Image Citation
"Zen and the Art of Faking It Book Cover." Online image.
Jordan Sonnenblick. 11 Nov. 2007 .

November Book Club Meetings

The next book club meetings are quickly approaching. Any interested students are welcome to join the discussions at any time.

*The 6th Grade Lunch Bunch will be meeting to talk about The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis on Thursday, November 29. The book is one of the nominees for the 2008 Caudill Young Readers' Book Award Program.
*The 7th Grade Lunch Bunch will be meeting to talk about Number the Stars by Lois Lowry on Friday, November 30.
*The 8th Grade Lunch Bunch will meet to talk about Hope was Here by Joan Bauer on Thursday, November 29.

A special thanks to Mrs. Heaser for helping to select the list of choices for the upcoming meetings.

Using Databases

Databases are really valuable research tools. Students at Highland have a selection of databases that are designed especially for middle school students.

This screencast tutorial will walk you through how to use EBSCO's Middle Search product. It includes magazine articles, newspaper articles, reference materials, and multimedia. Check out the video and let me know what you think. I created the screencast using a free product called Jing.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Rush to Read "Kicks Off"

Highland students will again have the opportunity to participate in the Rush to Read program.
I am a big fan of getting something FREE for doing what I like to do anyway, read!

Students, here is what you have to do to participate:
  • Read four books and write a summary/review for each of the books
  • Turn in your reviews in the Learning Center by the end of January
  • Receive a voucher for two free tickets to a Rush home game!
Questions? See Ms. Wyatt or check out the informational poster in the Learning Center.

Image Citation
"Arena Football at Kansas City." Wikimedia Commons. 27 April 2007. Wikimedia. 13 Oct. 2007

Welcome Mrs. Heaser!

For the next two months, Cherie Heaser will be working and learning in the Highland Learning Center as a student teacher. She's a student at the University of Illinois. We are fortunate to be the final stop of Mrs. Heaser's student teaching placements. She's already had experience at the high school level and in a K-8 building. This is the first time we've had a student teacher in the Highland Learning Center. It is sure to be a great adventure!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Next Book Club Meetings Announced

The Lunch Bunch Book Clubs kicked off successfully in September. We have three book clubs at Highland, one for each grade level. At the end of the first meetings we selected our books for the next meeting.

Here is the information about our next meetings:
  • 6th grade will be reading Wild Man Island by Will Hobbs. Our next meeting will be Thursday, November 1 during 5th period.
  • 7th grade will be reading Silent to the Bone by E. L. Konigsburg. Our next meeting will be Friday, October 26 during 4th period.
  • 8th grade will be reading Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff. Our next meeting will be Wednesday, October 31 during 6th period.
Any interested Highland students are invited to participate. See Ms. Wyatt to sign up and get a copy of the book.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Check out the survey

I was reading the blog, News from the LMC, and saw that Katie Kirsch - the fabulous school librarian at Lake Bluff Middle who is a friend of mine - added a survey feature to the blog. I decided to try one on this blog as well. The first survey question is about how you choose the next book you are going to read.

Happy Reading (and selecting!)
Ms. Wyatt

Monday, September 24, 2007

Citing Sources

This morning at our faculty meeting, Ms. Hauman, Highland's technology teacher, and I talked to the Highland staff about citing sources. Our hope is that we can grow a school-wide expectation of citing sources in a consistent style through teachers modeling and adding requirements for citations in every assignment. The idea being if students need to cite sources every time they do research or use an image, that it will become a habit of mind in the way that they use information academically.

Highland's guide to creating a works cited can be found at: There are also some really helpful how-to guides that Kim Hauman created for electronic resources that are integrated into the works cited guide.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


The 8th grade book club is meeting to discuss Whirligig by Paul Fleischman next week. I initially read the book a couple of years ago. I just finished reading it again. I knew I enjoyed the book, but I found it such a pleasure this time around! I love that the whirligigs take on a life of their own and connect people in ways that they don't/won't ever realize. There was one quote that really struck me as I read, "We never know all the consequences of our acts. They reach into places we can't see. And into the future, where no one can." (38) The book explores the extended consequences of actions in several ways and left me thinking about that idea even after the last page was read.

Here's the little blurb I wrote on my LibraryThing page:
Brent Bishop has moved around a lot, so he knows "the rules" of trying to fit in at different high schools. A lot of these things have to do with status and appearance: the right clothes, cars, girlfriends. Those things matter to Brent. After getting humiliated at a party, he decides to end his life. The car crash doesn't kill him but instead it kills Lea, an 18-year-old with a bright future. Her mother gives Brent the task of building whirligigs in Lea's honor at the four corners of the United States. The story is interwoven with vignettes of how the whirligigs touch the lives of people who come across them. The story is beautifully written and the structure of the story reinforces the themes of interconnectedness, loss, and healing. Brent is a person transformed by his experience.

I'll keep you posted about our discussion. I am hoping it'll be a good one. There are a lot of interesting talking points and themes in the book! Any Highland 8th graders who have read the book are welcome to come to the meeting.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Lunch Bunch Book Clubs Starting in September

Each grade level will have its own Lunch Bunch Book Club this year. Any interested students are welcome to join the club. Copies of the books are available in the Learning Center.

6th Grade -- Our first book of the year is No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman. We'll meet on September 27 during 5th period.

7th Grade -- Our first book of the year is Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Our meeting will be on Wednesday, September 26, during 4th period.

8th Grade -- Our first book is Whirligig by Paul Fleischman. Our meeting will be on Wednesday, September 26, during 6th period.

Participants should bring lunch to the book club meeting. We'll eat together while we discuss the book.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

New Books for Fall

I really love when new books arrive at the library. I ordered a bunch of new titles over the summer, and one of the very first things I did when I came back to school was to open the boxes of books to see what new things we'll be adding to the Highland collection.

I was busy getting the library ready to open after school one day, when I picked up one of the books off the cart. An hour or so of reading later, I realized I was really enjoying the book I picked up!

The book was Janet Tashjian's Fault Line. Here's the review I wrote on my LibraryThing page:
Becky is a smart, funny, driven seventeen-year-old. When she meets Kip, an aspiring comic, she totally falls for him. Although when he starts to make her choose between him and her friends, becomes more and more controlling, and seems to turn on her for no reason, she starts to wonder if this is the relationship for her.
Interspersed throughout the narrative are notes-to-self Becky makes and Kip's journal entries that give more insight into what each character is thinking. A powerful exploration of an abusive dating relationship.

All of the new books that are being added to the Learning Center's collection this August and September will have purple tape on the spine and will be shelved on the "New Books" shelf. Add a comment to this post with your feedback on any of the new books you read.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Highland Summer Reading Wall of Fame

It is hard to believe that it is already time for school to start. I'm looking forward to get the library opened for business once again.

What was your favorite book of the summer?
Students and staff members are invited to contribute their favorite reads of the summer to the Highland Summer Reading Wall of Fame. To participate, simply submit a short description of the book and why it was a favorite. Then have your picture taken with the book. The resulting flyers will be posted outside the Learning Center.

I read mostly young adult books this summer. Here's the picture I took to use in the Wall of Fame with my favorite summer reads: Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. Of course, the end of Eclipse has left me anxious for book four. It won't be published until August 2008 at the earliest!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Summer Reading


I’ve been doing quite a bit of summer reading. I picked up a handful of advanced reader copies (books that are not yet published) at the ALA conference. I just read the second Adam Canfield Book and FINALLY read Twilight and New Moon. I had heard so many good things about those books by Stephanie Meyer, I was afraid I was going to be disappointed. I was not. I LOVED them! I’ve been writing reviews and rating all my summer reads on my LibraryThing page.

Also, I took a podcasting class at the beginning of the summer. I made my first podcast doing book talks about the books I had read at that point. Listen to my podcast.

What books have been your favorite so far this summer?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Book Clubs go Virtual

I’m excited to try this experiment of online conversation about books.

Tomorrow is the last day of school. Over the summer, this is a forum for us to “talk” about what we’ve been reading. By commenting on posts, you can participate in the conversation.

What books are on your reading list this summer?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

'06-'07 Book Clubs Wrap up Face-to-Face

It’s hard to believe that the end of the school year is near. The 6th and 7th grade lunch bunch groups had our final meetings of the year yesterday.

The seventh graders talked about James Howe’s The Misfits. We had a really good discussion about what it means to be a misfit, how you find your niche, and comparing the environment at the school in the book with our school.

The sixth graders did a Caudill Round Table. Everyone in the group read at least one of the books from the 2008 Caudill list and reviewed it for the group. After hearing the reviews there are several books I am more excited about reading than from just looking at the cover on the shelf. (I know, I know I am not supposed to judge a book by its cover but it is really hard not to sometimes.)

The book clubs really went well this year.

I am anxious to see what kinds of discussions we have using this blog.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Final 8th Grade Meeting of the Year

It’s hard to believe it is the last 8th grade Lunch Bunch meeting of the year today. We’re going to watch the movie Speak after school today and compare it to Anderson’s book of the same name.

The book club formed last year after I came to Highland. Some participants have been part of the group since the beginning. We also added several new faces this year. I wish the members all the best as they graduate and move on to high school. One of the goals of this blog is to keep our conversations going even after school lets out for the summer.

Here’s a list of what this group has read and discussed over the past two years:

  • September 05- Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  • October - Time Windows by Kathryn Reiss
  • November - Love Among the Walnuts by Jean Ferris
  • January - So B. It by Sarah Weeks
  • February - Son of the Mob by Gordan Korman
  • March/April - Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
  • May - Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
  • October 06 - Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman
  • November - Misfits by James Howe
  • December - Book Club Round Table
  • January - Blizzard’s Wake by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • February - Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville
  • March - Real Time by Pnina Kass
  • April - Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine - One Book, One Community
  • May - Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
More soon on the response of the group to Speak

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Welcome to the Blog

Welcome to the Highland Book Buzz blog.It’s the Highland Learning Center’s first blog.

Since summer break has nearly arrived, book clubs will start to meet virtually rather than in our monthly lunch time meetings. In this space we’ll talk books and authors.

Welcome and stay tuned!