Wednesday, December 3, 2014


MakerSpaces are a hot trend in the library world and in education. We are going to dip our toes into the Maker Movement in the Highland LC with a low-tech Maker Monday on Monday, 12/15. Interested students will have the chance to up-cycle library materials and repurpose them into a variety of projects.

The Maker Monday will open before and after school. Students are welcome to stop in during morning study hall time (8:15 - 8:45) or after school (3:40 - 4:30). It's a drop in program with no sign-up required. 

What will you make? 

The Book Fair is Coming to Highland, 12/8 - 12/12 - and New This Year, An Online Book Fair

The Highland Middle School Fall book fair is just around the corner! The book fair will run from Monday, December 8 – Friday, December 12, and it will be held in the Learning Center throughout the school day. Students will have a chance to visit the book fair when their LA/Lit classes come to the library during book fair week.
This is a great opportunity to stock up on books for your own collection because it is always nice to have new things to read over winter break. You can also find great gifts for your teachers, or do some holiday shopping for your friends and family!

Online Book Fair
This year we are going to try the Scholastic online book fair as well. The online book fair will be "open" through 12/19. The items ordered through the online book fair will be shipped to Highland and distributed once we return to school in January. If you are interested in taking a look at what is available or placing an order, visit this site. The sales from the online fair will add to the money raised at the physical book fair. Funds raised help to add more materials to the library collection and are used for programs such as bringing visiting authors to Highland.

A special thanks in advance to the HFA parents who will volunteer their time working at the book fair and especially to Cheryl Otto and Charlotte Lawless who coordinated the volunteer sign-up!

Highland LC Welcomes Nicolle Rivera, Student Teacher

We're thrilled to have Nicolle Rivera at Highland in November and December. She's the guest author of this post as a way of introduction.
Nicolle Rivera leads a library activity

Hello!  My name is Ms. Rivera and I will be working with Dr. Wyatt in the Learning Center at Highland until winter break as I finish my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science.  I grew up in Chicago, but I lived in New York, France, and Central Illinois for school before coming to Highland.  I have worked in all sorts of libraries, but I think school libraries are the best because I get to teach invaluable research skills and still share my passion for children’s and young adult literature. I read all types of books, but I am especially interested in sci-fi/fantasy, historical fiction, and stories that feature diverse characters and would be happy to recommend some great books!  In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family (including my two cats), playing softball, hosting trivia nights, and baking tasty treats.  I am thrilled that I get to work with such a bright and vibrant community, and I am looking forward to the fun events and activities planned for the rest of the my time here!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Preparing for Jordan Sonnenblick's Visit

At Highland, we are full of anticipation for Jordan Sonnenblick's visit to Highland on Friday, 11/14.
The day will start with two assemblies, giving all students the chance to hear him speak.

Mr. Sonnenblick will have lunch with members of the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade lunch bunch book clubs. These students read and discussed his books for our October meetings.

In the afternoon, the author will lead a writing workshop session. Interested students applied for a spot in this workshop. There were many thoughtful applications from students passionate about writing.

Stay tuned for a post on the visit!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

eBook Offerings Expand Through eRead Illinois

Thanks to a project of RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library Systems), Highland is part of an eBook consortium, eRead Illinois, that offers our students and teachers affordable access to digital books which can be downloaded on to a variety of devices.

As part of the launch of this project, there will be two trainings offered at the Highland Learning Center on Friday, 10/17. One will be held before school from 8:15 - 8:45 and the other will be after school from 3:40 - 4:15.

Mystery Night in the Library 2014

Members of the Highland Thespians and the Learning Center staff are working together to put on the
annual Mystery Night in the Library. The event will take place on Wednesday, 10/29, from 3:45 - 5:00. Students who attend will get to act as detectives trying to solve the mystery as it unfolds from the stories of witnesses and suspects as well as the examination of crime scenes.

Students need to sign up to reserve a place.
The signup is available in the library.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Jordan Sonnenblick is Coming to Highland!

Award winning author, Jordan Sonnenblick, will be visiting Highland on Friday, November 14. Mr. Sonnenblick's books include Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie and Notes from the Midnight Driver, titles very popular with and familiar to students and staff at Highland.

We are thrilled that he will be coming to Highland to spend a day! The day will include large group assemblies to allow all students to have a chance to hear Mr. Sonnenblick, a former middle school teacher, speak. The day's schedule will also include a book signing. If students are interested in pre-ordering books for the visit, you can print the pre-order form and return to the Learning Center.

In the afternoon, there will be a writing workshop for students interested in working with Mr. Sonnenblick. This will be an interactive, hands-on experience for a smaller group of students. Students must fill out an application to be considered for participation in the workshop. Applications will be completed online and are due by 10/29.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Guys Read Back at Highland for 2014-2015

Guys Read is a group by guys, for guys. The group meets once a month after school from 3:40 - 4:30. Rob Eckmann, librarian at Cook Memorial Library, leads this group.

Any guys who are in grades 5-8 are welcome to attend.
Next month, the Guys Read group will have a visiting author joining the conversation. Allan Woodrow will be at the meeting on October 6 and guys planning to attend are encouraged to read one of his books beforehand.

Lunch Book Clubs Kick Off

We had our first lunch bunch book club of the year today.
We started with the sixth graders who read Regarding the Fountain. We had a great group today. I always know it is a good sign if we have to raid nearby classrooms for more chairs!

Next week the 7th and 8th grade groups meet.

These Lunch Bunch book clubs generally meet once a month. We have lunch together and talk about the book we read. Any students are welcome to attend!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Science Friday

On Friday, I spent the day in Mrs. Oshinski's seventh grade science classroom. We were talking to her students about an upcoming science news article assignment. There is a pathfinder on the LC website with resources to help students find online news sources and link to Easybib to cite their chosen articles.

The other half of the class, I was thrilled to be able to share about some of my experiences in Namibia over the summer. I did a study abroad with the University of Maryland iSchool. Our first two weeks were spent exploring libraries in the country and a third week was spent on safari. I was happy to be able to share some of what I learned and experienced that had science ties with the students.

Welcome to the 2013-2014 School Year

And we're off! After a whirlwind week, the library is humming with activity after all the 45 LA/Lit classes at Highland were welcomed to the building.

Last spring and over the summer, the fiction section in our library was reorganized and genrefied in hopes that this would make it even easier for readers to find books that will appeal and engage to them.

The seventh and eighth grade students used the iPads during their welcome back sessions to explore the Destiny Quest app, the app for our library catalog and Aurasma, an augmented reality app, that helped them learn about the new sections in the library.

I'm looking forward to a great 2014-2015 school year!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

You're Invited to a Special Movie Event

Watch Girl Rising at the Highland Learning Center

Students and Parents are invited to join with Highland teachers to view Girl Rising, a movie that explores the lives of girls around the world and the power of education. The movie will be shown in the Learning Center on Friday, April 25 after school. We'll have snacks and some discussion as we watch the film. 

Please note, this film is rated PG-13. Students who attend without an adult will be asked to have a parent signature. A permission slip and invitation to the event is available below! If you want to attend, just print this out, have a parent sign it, and be sure to bring it with you on Friday. 

This event is part of Project Pretty Powerfula grant project funded by the District 70 Partners for Excellence in Education. Over the course of the school year teachers involved in this project have worked to promote positive messages and build self-esteem among girls at Highland.

Educate Girls. 
Change the World.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Book Fair

It is book fair time at Highland!
The book fair kicked off on Friday April 11 and will run through Thursday April 17. Students can visit and shop at the book fair during their visits to the library during the book fair week and are welcome to stop in the Learning Center throughout.

Highland's Open House is on Wednesday evening, April 16. The book fair will be open from 7 - 8:30 that evening as well.

Joan Bauer to stop by Highland on her Illinois Book Award Road Trip

The cavalacade of author visits this year continues when Joan Bauer stops by Highland next week during her Illinois author tour.

Bauer is an accomplished author of tween and YA books. Many of her titles have been Caudill Nominees. Her book, Close to Famous, was a 2014 Caudill Nominee and the book Almost Home will appear on the coming year's list.

Copies of Almost Home are available for purchase. After she speaks to several classes the morning of her visit, Ms. Bauer will do a book signing.
We look forward to welcoming Ms. Bauer to Highland in the week ahead!

Neal Shusterman Inspires and Entertains the Highland Community

Hearing authors talk about their work and process always inspires and fascinates me. We were fortunate to have Neal Shusterman visit Highland on Thursday, April 10. He is an amazing storyteller. I knew from reading his books that he has a style that keeps me turning pages. But he has a gift speaking to an audience as well.

We kept Mr. Shusterman busy during his day at Highland. We started the day with two large group assemblies so that all students had a chance to hear him speak. His presentation format was unique and just worked! It was driven by student questions. I heard really positive comments from students and staff members about these sessions.

From there we did a small lunch reception with Mr. Shusterman and members of the Lunch Bunch Book Clubs. At this event our guest did a reading of a few pages of his upcoming book Undivided. We were mesmerized!

Then we moved on to a couple writing workshop sessions where students learned how to craft a story and talked about the writing process. These small group sessions let students work with Mr. Shusterman in a small group setting.

Finally, the day ended with a book signing back in the library.

It was a great author visit day.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Highland Gets Ready to Welcome Neal Shusterman

On Thursday, April 10, Highland will welcome guest author Neal Shusterman. Mr. Shusterman is a prolific author of books for tweens and teens. Many of his books have been very popular among Highland students including Unwind, Bruiser, Everlost, and The Schwa Was Here.

When Mr. Shusterman visits Highland, he'll do two large group assemblies so that all students in the building will have a chance to hear him speak. After lunch, he'll lead two writer's workshop sessions. These sessions will be for small groups. Students who are interested are encouraged to apply for one of the spots in the workshop. The application is available here. The application deadline is Thursday, March 20.

The visit will end with a book signing in the Learning Center.  Students who want to purchase a book or books written by Mr. Shusterman may order them through the library. Order forms are available in the LC, LA/Lit classrooms or can be printed here.

We are all so excited to welcome Mr. Shusterman visit Highland this spring!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Highland 2014 Caudill Results

It was a close race in picking the Caudill winner at Highland this year.

The Caudill program is a readers' choice award program for Illinois 4 - 8 graders. Each year 20 books are nominated to the program. Students who read three or more of the books are qualified to vote for the book and author they believe should win the award.

The students at Highland have spoken. With 434 students casting votes, Highland students chose:

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

It received 85 votes which was 20% of the total votes cast. 

In a close second, Highland students chose: 

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

It received 77 votes which was 18% of the total votes cast. 

Here's a breakdown of the complete results: