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.