Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Summer of Personalized Professional Development

This is a great summer! No, not the hot, hot, hot weather, but all the wonderful opportunities to learn more and engage with folks about what I am interested in.  I have been creating and enjoying my own personalized PD, focusing on those areas I want to, not a district driven expectation.  Don't get me wrong, my district can do good PD, but still ... 
In June I attended ALA in Anaheim, great!  Went to sessions about new databases (yes, I am geeky that way!), listened to publishers talking about what new books would be coming out in the fall, and wandered the vendor hall chatting individually with those businesses I had an interest in.  I also got to meet and talk with my ALSC committee members with whom I will be working for the next two years (Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children's Videos). I came home with a suitcase full of books, which I am currently reading my way through, and a year's subscription to some ABC-Clio databases. 
In July I was back on the road to the Mazza Institute at the Findlay University (Ohio).  This is a week of illustrators and authors sharing what they do with additional breakout sessions by folks that related to teaching and learning.  (I actually got to hear Mary Higgins Clark, what a hoot! And David Diaz, and Wendell and Florence Minor!)If you don't know about the Mazza Museum, it is an amazing collection of illustrator art and the picture books they came from.  My kind of museum with original art and the artists I know, children's illustrators, and the book the art was from.  Gorgeous, amazing, and wonderful; I love it there! Here is the link to learn more about it: http://www.findlay.edu/offices/resources/mazza/default.htm
Also in July I was able to attend a wonderful one day Library Symposium held at Kent State.  I heard Candace Fleming and Shelley Pearsall (maybe I will give historical fiction and biographies a better look this year!) as well as some great sessions of web resources and a wonderful session about new young adult titles.   If you didn't know it before, yes I am a geeky girl who loves to spend her free time learning.  But why not?  I get to talk to people who are interested in the same things I am, I get my professional batteries recharged, and I always come away happy.
This first week of August finds me at another conference, this time it is held at my own high school.  It is an Innovative Learning Conference that has been held for the past few years and is getting larger each time.  Yesterday I heard Will Richardson (twice!), learned some new tips and tricks from the great folks at INFOhio, and co-presented a session myself.  I will be back there today, ready for more fun summer vacation opportunities!
How do you spend your summer vacation?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How I am spending my summer vacation ...

Haven't written for a while, but I have been busy (such a subjective word!).  Off to ALA, which was great! Followed by several weeks of nonstop reading.  Over the next few postings I will share some of the titles that have made an impression on me.  Here are the first two:

The PeculiarThe Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann. Greenwillow, publication date: September 1, 2012.
I picked this advanced reader’s copy up at ALA, what an amazing story from an author who was 16 when he wrote it.  It is fantasy with a capital F, set in a place where an opening was created between two worlds that allowed fae (fairy world creatures) to enter ours.  Alas, this was not a good move for these fae, they are essentially exiled in one town and a child of mixed heritage can be beaten or killed.  This story is about one “boy” Bartholomew and the lengths to which he goes to save his sister from a powerful individual who wants to change the balance of power between fae and human.  A great combo of fantasy, steampunk, and coming of age; all in all I thought this story was great.  It was rough in a few spots, a few parts in the story got confusing and rambling, but not enough to make me put down the book.  I hope this author continues to write, I would love to see what he comes up with next.

Product Details  Ashfall by Mike Mullen.  Tanglewood Publishing, 2011.                                           
One of my guilty pleasures is disaster movies, natural disasters.  So when my local children’s book store owner told me about this book (with a sequel coming soon), I was hooked.  Ashfall is about the consequences of an extreme volcanic eruption in Yellowstone.  Communication is nonexistent, survival is paramount, and finding one’s loved ones is the plan.  This story was one nonstop action ride, at times I found myself literally holding my breath.  This author has a gift of description, the deep drifts of ash that Alex plows through with his face covered so as to not breathe in the deadly ash fall, feeling each of his trials, I was so involved with this book I barely put it down.  I almost think this is the book that will give Hunger Games a run for the money.