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A Celebration

rule of threeI mentioned in an earlier blog post how fortunate this school library is to have received a renovation grant. I can’t help but wish that every school would be so fortunate. Of course, ours is not the only school in our Board to have been selected. In fact, at least three more school libraries will benefit from some well-deserved improvements. And that’s a good thing!

It’s a good thing because decision makers are realizing that libraries are more than just about books. Books will always be important in our libraries and we must strive to maintain book-buying budgets. Our students’ needs change all the time. Meeting their needs in a well-equipped library, one that is in keeping with 21st century learning, can only increase each student’s chances for success. It’s a small part, but including library upgrades in a school’s plan for success acknowledges its place in the bigger picture.

We are nearing the end of the school year, the renovation work is progressing well and disruptions to the library’s schedule will soon come to an end. What better way to celebrate the near completion of a project of this scope than to invite one of our students’ favourite authors to address them!

When a colleague offered the opportunity to host Eric Walters at our school, I jumped at the chance. Our principal supported the idea and approval was given to cover costs with the library’s budget. That began an almost year-long planning and co-ordinating marathon. A class set of The Rule of Thre3 was ordered for a teacher eager to study this dystopian novel with her students. Additional copies of appropriate E.W. teen novels were added to the library’s collection.

Students were encouraged to read. And read they did. Several novels per student! For months on end!

Arrangements were made to include close to 200 students and teachers at the presentation – at a time when exams have already started! Our main entrance was decorated with student survival kit projects and posters on the scheduled day of his visit. In our excitement, no one took pictures! Out of respect, no one took pictures. We did not want to break the spell. Like magic, the students hung onto every word, laughed and got teary-eyed as if on cue. A day later, the students were back in the library asking for more Eric Walters books.

Was it worth all the planning, scheduling and book-talking? You bet! A visit by Eric Walters, empowering teens, encouraging them (boys in particular) to read, was a fabulous way to celebrate bringing our Library into the 21st century.

Submitted by C.A.Case from PCHS


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Hackerboy Fans Get Surprise Visit from Author Julie Champagne!

IMG_1470This past winter, the Grade 6 students at Dorval Elementary read the French novel, Hackerboy by Julie Champagne. The storyline had even the most reluctant readers hooked. They were so inspired that they decorated their classroom using the theme of the book.

IMG_1455Their enthusiasm spilled over to their weekly library visits. After seeing them talk about the book, it got me thinking that it would be nice to invite the author to the school next year. In reality, it would be even better if she could visit this year and capitalize on the excitement. Unfortunately, time was running out since the year was almost finished, plus I had no idea if she would even be available but I decided to give it a try anyway. After a few emails, the visit was booked for May 1.

 The Grade 6 teacher and I decided to keep the visit a secret from the kids. What better way to really surprise them!

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It is not an easy task to keep the attention of Grade 6 students on a warm, sunny day in May, but the visit was a huge success! The kids were extremely enthusiastic, and Julie is an amazing presenter. She started off by asking them about their favourite comedians and interests. As she put it, they knew lots about her, but she wanted to get to know them. Instead of simply talking to them for an hour straight, she then played a true or false game, where the kids held up cards based on different statements that she read out. She also got the students to create aliases based on their personal names. These names were put in a draw for the winners to win prizes. The kids were able to share their projects with her as well.

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This was one of the best author visits I have been to in a long time. Julie Champagne will be returning to Dorval next year for sure.

Submitted by Tiffany Clarke from Dorval Elementary and Quebec Reading Connection


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OMG, isn’t that…?

Have I mentioned lately that I love my job? Subtle reminders occur on a daily basis it seems.

Not so many years ago, I had the great fortune of shadowing guest authors participating in an annual event at a students’ writing conference. Young people aged ten to seventeen were bussed to a local university over several days. Once there, they followed a carefully planned schedule that included speakers, performances and best-of-all: the opportunity to develop and expand their skills with featured authors. Authors whose works served to inspire these students.

The authors were not movie stars nor were they famous entertainers yet the excited buzz said it all. The students were star-struck and eager to meet their favourites. I must confess, so was I. So were the other librarians who would be shadowing and helping out during the workshops. The annual conference no longer takes place and many of us miss it.

Thankfully, school librarians can invite authors to speak to their students depending on their budgets. Gifted authors spin their magic and the students are awestruck. I was reminded of that fact recently when I received an email from one such author confirming his upcoming visit to our school. “Please feel free to contact me” included his home address, phone number and email! I was thrilled. I was instantly reminded of those sessions at the writing conferences. I remembered similar visits from authors, storytellers and poets. And I remember how much the students appreciate the chance to meet and interact with them.

Have you considered these options?

bookweekDeadline for applications is January 31st.

skypeHow about Skyping? A great 21st century project! https://education.skype.com/resources/441-authors-who-skype-with-classes-book-clubs-for-free

School Library Journal has this to say on the subject: http://www.slj.com/2009/08/programs/met-any-good-authors-lately/

Author and/or publisher websites are also good sources of Skyping options. Share your success stories about digital visits!

Submitted by C.A. Case from PCHS