With the heat wave of summer upon us, reading is a great choice. Coffee shops, libraries and homes offer us comfy places to read and have air conditioning! :) I have really enjoyed reading this summer. I haven't read all sci-fi or all fantasy - I have stretched and read professional development books, required freshman reading, graphic novels, a book from 1956 and books about my faith. I have to say my favorite is the one in the middle - ROLLER GIRL by Victoria Jamieson. She captures perfectly how it feels to "grow up" and move on when friends are changing. It reminded me so much of my own transition from middle to high school...
Today I had the opportunity to go with a new friend, Mrs. North, to Houston Prep at U of H Downtown. She was teaching classes on binary coding through code.org and building connections and relationships with students. She asked me to join her and I was excited to see her in action! Last year, at SBMS we participated in Hour of Code for the first time. It was amazing. If you don't know much about it, then you must check out the video below to find out more about how many ways it can change and affect students' lives for good!
On a personal note, I completed my Hour of Code using the Frozen activities. I loved Frozen and even dressed up as Elsa for my niece's birthday party, so I was ready to tackle the code. I started and was having so much fun making all different shapes and having success. I noticed as I moved up through the levels that the activities increased in difficulty. I saw terms like 180 degrees and other math terms and I started to get nervous. See, in school, I struggled with math, especially in high school. I barely passed geometry - I am convinced it's because of tutorials that I earned my credit. Thankfully, I had a wonderful library aide, Meredith, who is a great encourager. She saw (and heard) that I was struggling so she helped me think through some of my steps, cheered me on and clapped for me when I finished. I felt like I had tackled a geometry beast. I was so proud and showed off my picture to my friends at lunch, my mom, my sisters, my niece and nephew, and anyone else who would listen! I was amazed at how much it boosted my confidence.
So this morning when I was getting ready, I noticed my Girl Scout vest hanging in my closet. That is my vest from Troop 502 in Katy, Texas! I found it recently to show my niece who is going into kindergarten this year. (I'm probably more excited than she is but that is OK!) If you notice, there is a badge with 0s and 1s on it. That is BINARY code. So that means way back when I was in Girl Scouts, most likely Brownies, I learned about binary code and received a badge. Today I have come full circle. Now I am pushing for students at SBMS to have access to coding, technology, relationships and networking. It is not all about computers. It is about how to use technology - not just computers - to help us reach our full potential. I am so thankful for the opportunity to do that at SBMS! I know it's still summer, but I am getting super excited about our upcoming school year! Get ready, Bears, it's going to be a GREAT one!
As the summer approaches here are my Top Ten Summer Ideas for 2015!
10. Go swimming- it gets hot in Houston. Take some time and enjoy the water with friends.
9. Take a class. There are free classes offered at your local libraries, the YMCA, Jo-Ann's craft store, Leisure Learning and Michael's.
8. Send someone a hand-written card. This is a treasure. We don't get hand-written notes very often anymore so receiving one is always a pleasure!
7. Eat ice cream. Just because you can! My favorite is mint chocolate chip.
6. Listen to a story or author talk. Our local book store has author talks all summer! I'll be at Jen Mathieu's Devoted book release on 6/13/15. Come join me!
5. Visit the Houston Zoo and check out the new gorilla exhibit. I know it's amazing because my sweet sister pushed me in a wheelchair all around the Zoo!
4. Read a book that has been on your to read list for a while. Enjoy it!
3. Exchange a book you enjoyed with a friend and then meet for ice-cream to talk about it. Win win!
2. Find a Little Free Library and take a book home. Then revisit and donate one of your own books.
1. Tell someone you love them and that they are important to you! That's what matters most.
I have been very delayed in posting - it's been exactly one month! OH MY! I apologize for the delay. I have read some great books though. One of my favorites was Kenneth Oppel's newest book, The Boundless. It was set during the time when the railroad was being built from the east coast to the west coast. One of the young boys whose dad becomes the train foreman. It is full of mystery, intrigue, suspense and murder! I loved it and couldn't wait to finish it. :) It was so different than Mr. Oppel's other books. Highly recommended - 5 out of 5 stars.
This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while. I adore the cover and I knew once I started reading it I would have a connection with it. Boy was I right. Amy McNamara does an amazing job developing characters that you can empathize with, get angry with and then even feel sorry for...it's almost like she is walking you through the stages of grief. Really this book is an encouragement about dealing with the monster of grief and how different people handle it. It is a beautiful and dark story. I give it 5 out of 5 stars!!
At the recommendation of one of our 7th graders, I finally read Eight Grade Bites by Heather Brewer. This is NOT your typical vampire book. Vladimir Tod lives with his aunt and since his aunt is a nurse he feeds from nearly expired "blood bags." She will make him a cup of tea - when really it's a cup of warmed up blood. GROSS! Other than the few bloody descriptions I really enjoyed the character of Vladimir Tod because he is melancholy...much like myself. His best friend helps him out and surprisingly his best friend is a human and not a vampire! This book starts a series that takes Vlad all the way through 12th grade. I am really glad that my student recommended this and brought me HER book from home so I could read it!
This week it has been chilly here in Houston, but not nearly as bad as the east coast! They are drowning in snow and even though I like the idea of snow I am glad that we are not digging ourselves out every morning.
Here are some things I am thankful for this week:
1. A fun symphony trip with 8th graders
2. A teacher who told me she's not giving up on library!
3. An 8th grader who learned to love books and I keep scavenging through my collection at home to bring her new ones :)
4. Great friends and co-workers who support and help me <3
5. Ice on my windshield twice this week!
6. Starting a new book that a sweet 7th grader brought for me from her house.
7. Being able to watch our Character Without Question student receive her award!
8. Earning my Starbucks reward so I got FREE coffee this morning!
9. Our life skills class who showers me with hugs EVERY TIME I see them.
10. Fellow librarians who send encouraging Tweets :)
11. Ms. Ayala who helps run the library and brings a smile!
12. My sweet dog Millie - who keeps me on my toes!
I first heard about this book from Valerie Koehler at Blue Willow Bookshop. All she said was that it's an amazing book and we all had to read it. She couldn't tell us anything or it would give it away. I was intrigued. Then I saw all the comments and tweets about it - people were not giving away the ending. They were just flabbergasted by the book. So since reading some of those comments I was a little wary to read it. I'm over halfway through it now and I feel like I am just waiting for something to happen. The suspense is building and it's like watching a train wreck about to happen. I brought the book to school today hoping to sneak in some time to read! I can't wait to find out what happens! Definitely a recommended read.
I was lucky enough to win a copy of Alison Cherry's book, For Real, on her Twitter page recently. I've been reading a lot of fantasy books that were pretty intense and I wanted to read a fun girly book ~ this fit the bill perfectly! Two sisters, Miranda and Claire, venture off to join a reality tv show much like The Amazing Race. They go together as Team Revenge to get back at Miranda's nasty ex-boyfriend Sarim. Everything seems great until there is a major twist in the competition! It all of a sudden turns into Around the World in 80 Dates! AAAHH!!! This is an amazing book with fun scenes, great characters and a beautiful relationship between sisters. I highly recommend it! One of our eighth graders has already started it this morning!
This weekend I finished an amazing book by Leslye Walton - The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. I will confess that when I first started it I was not sure I wanted to read it because I felt it was too "creepy." Now be sure I like odd and magical books, but this seemed to be hitting some nerves in me, but I pressed through and I am SO glad I did. The book was beautiful and tragic, but Ava took something horrible and she allowed it to become something beautiful, thus creating the strange and beautiful sorrows. I give this book five out of five stars and I cannot wait to meet Leslye Walton at Teen Book Con!
Ms. Smith, SBMS