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The Winner’s Curse

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By: Marie Rutkoski

This book has been highly advertised and quickly found its way on to my radar. When it came in, it had already been mentioned on several lists as a book that will quickly rise up the charts. Marie Rutkoski is the author of one of our current Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl books (The Shadow Society) and because of this book, I know that she is a fantastic author. So over the winter break, I made sure to grab this book so I could check it out. I didn’t end up picking it up until the last possible moment, but I will tell you, it was done before I returned! I absolutely loved this story!

The main character is the 17-year-old Kestrel, who is the daughter to the country’s top general. She lives in the lap of luxury and never has to lift a hand. Her father wants her to join the military, but she is not interested in that. She is an incredible strategist and prefers to use that skill on her own time and in her own way, and not as a part of the military career.

Another main character is Arin, a slave that was purchased by Kestrel on a whim at the slave auction. He is a very angry man who has watched his country get taken away from him in a war. He has lost his entire family and is now forced to work as a slave. Needless to say, he is not the most compliant slave. He doesn’t follow the rules that slaves are supposed to follow. And I won’t give any spoilers, but there is a reason for this.

As you read through this story, you will experience frustration, death, love, hope, and loss. It is all woven in a story that is easy to get engrossed in. And although I have become a bit bored with trilogies (usually because the stories seem drawn out just for the purpose of selling more books), I think this is an excellent start to a new series and I can’t wait for the next installment, which is due out in March 2015.

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Categories: Book Recommendations, Photos | Leave a comment

Teen Read Week Fun

 

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This has been a very different year for us with the 1:1 initiative beginning in our county. While we continue to work out the kinks and spend a great deal of time working with iPads and related issues, we must still celebrate and promote traditional programs in our media center. One of our favorite special events each year is Teen Read Week, and this year was no exception!

We began the week collecting books for our first ever Book Swap. Students brought in gently used books all week and picked up a ticket to redeem the same number of titles on Swap Day. We had hundreds of books brought in for this event! Students and staff members who participated were pleased with the selection and left with new books to read, all without having to purchase anything. We are looking forward to doing this again in May to prepare for our summer reading program. We can’t wait!

We also hosted a daily photo scavenger hunt for students. Each clue was reading-focused (Day 1-The Fault in Our Stars, Day 2-Shakespeare, Day 3-The Hunger Games Series) and required students to take a photo (yay for iPads!) of something that represented the topic in some way. They could not simply take a photo of a book cover. We encouraged them to think outside of the box and come up with some clever and creative representations. To tie in writing, we asked each student to submit a short description of how the photo represented the given topic. We were blown away with both the participation and the submitted photos! We randomly selected a daily participant to win a small prize and at the end of the week, we also randomly selected a grand prize winner who participated all week. Check out my Twitter post for a few examples of the responses we received:

Additionally, we asked each club and sports group to create new read posters for the media center. We decided to hold a student vote and select the best eight to display, with the top vote getter earning a grand prize for the group. With a short school week, most asked to have the deadline extended, so we decided to make this an activity that we will wrap up later in the year. We had so much fun with all of these activities!

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Tiger TV Recruiting New Members

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Do you enjoy taking photographs? Do you have an interest in a career in television or radio? Would you like to participate in an extracurricular organization that will get you involved with the many activities happening at BI? If so, Tiger TV is the club for you! 

Tiger TV crew members are responsible for operating cameras at football games, filming graduation, and reporting on most special events that occur during the year. While it requires a great deal of your time after school hours, we always manage to have fun and share plenty of laughs while we work.

Our Tiger TV student leader this year is Keinan Johnson. If you are interested in learning more or being a part of our team, stop by the media center and pick up an application or talk to Keinan when you see him around school. You will be glad you did!

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Is It Really May?

Every year goes by quickly, but I can’t believe that it is already May. Usually at the end of the semester, we get so busy with teaching that we get behind in blogging. This semester is no exception! We have classes scheduled in the media center and computer labs into the last week of school. This is a great problem to have, but it does leave us a little out of breath when the whirlwind settles!

Since we last posted, many exciting things have been happening in the media center. We hosted our state-wide Exemplary Library Media Program Open House. We had almost 40 attendees throughout the day who represented at least 9 counties in Georgia. We were very pleased to have a media specialist from as far away as the metro-Atlanta area attend. Additionally, we were thrilled that Dr. Vayla Lee, Superintendent of Liberty County Schools, joined our principal, Scott Carrier, in supporting this event. We had several other central office officials, school principals, and even a school board member attend as well. Oh, and I can’t forget the two Instructional Technology professors from Georgia Southern University, Dr. Repman and Dr. Green, who taught us so much about this profession! The support our media program receives from all levels of administration and the community makes a big difference in what we are able to accomplish. image

When we have not been teaching, we have been preparing for some big changes coming in technology next year. We recently learned that we will be going 1:1 in grades 4 – 12 next year. For those of you not familiar with this term, it means all students in these grades will be assigned an iPad to use for instruction. With significant improvements in bandwidth and teacher training, we expect to see some great things happening in our classrooms. While Mrs. Lukkarinen and I have had our hands full with the logistics of these changes, we are really looking forward to leading our teachers and staff through this period of transition next year and beyond.

Finally, we learned last week that our program has once again been designated a Liberty County Exemplary Media Program. While we are ineligible to earn the state distinction again for the next 10 years, we are proud that our program continues to improve and increase student achievement at Bradwell. While we look forward to finishing another school year, we are also anticipating the wonderful things awaiting us and the rest of the Tiger community next year!

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Georgia Student Media Festival

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On Friday, we traveled to Jonesboro to help judge almost 1000 student projects that qualified for the Georgia Media Festival this year. To get to the state level competition, projects must score 96 or better at both a school-level and district-level competition.

Congratulations to the following BI students who earned qualifying scores this weekend at state. Their projects will now advance to the International Student Media Festival to be held later in the summer.

Michelle Shaughnessy (Prezi on Andrew Jackson)

Georgi-Ann Johnson (Prezi on Theodore Roosevelt)

Amber Akridge (Website on Eating Disorders)

Victoria Smith (Website on Cancer)
Shanta Bacon
Tameerah Thomas

The following projects earned a perfect score at state:

Keinan Johnson (Website on Social Media and Teens)

Genesis Maldanado-Matos (Website on Teen Depression)
Tiana Johnson
Kaysa Hawkins

We could not do this without media specialist/teacher collaboration on classroom projects throughout the year. A special thank you to Mrs. Reese, Mrs. Eastlake, Coach Miller, and Mr. Richards for encouraging them to participate this year.

Categories: Media Festival, Photos | 1 Comment

Social Media for Teens and Tweens

Teaching students and parents about social media is an important part of our job as high school media specialists. In August, we scheduled a forum on this topic with our PTO to be held in March for both middle and high school parents. After Kate, an aspiring media specialist, started working with us to complete practicum hours, we thought this would be a good activity for her to plan and present to this audience. While Mrs. Lukkarinen and I shared resources, discussed ideas, and helped promote the event, Kate took the reins and was the face of the BI media program during the forum.

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We think the parents, students, and staff members who attended the event got some valuable information on this serious topic. We are linking Kate’s presentation website here for those interested. Our many thanks to Kate for being so well-prepared and willing to take on such a big task!

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Book Spine Poetry

We enjoy seeing book spine poems other libraries have done to celebrate special events like National Poetry Month. Mrs. Lukkarinen had a great idea to complete a book spine poetry activity with some of our students. After collaborating with Mrs. Troupe-Clear and Mr. Wilkinson, we are planning a day when we can work with their students on book spine poetry. The teachers are excited to participate since they are currently studying poetry in their classes. We can’t wait to share the finished products! Here are a few that Mrs. Lukk and I created while preparing our lesson materials.

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HRRB State Champions!

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For those who participate in Georgia’s Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl, January and February are incredibly busy months. For many of the schools that compete in this state-wide competition, teams are formed and practice sessions begin in August. From August until January, students read twenty books from the Georgia Peach Award nominees and study thousands of possible questions about the titles. January and February begin competition season; first with county, then regionals, and finally district, for teams that earn the right to compete at the next level. Only two teams each from the elementary, middle, and high school levels compete in March for the state championship. We have been very excited to earn our spot in the state championship finals over the past two years. After suffering a tough defeat and an ultimate second place finish in the state finals last year to Lithia Springs High School, our team was hungrier than ever for the win.

This year, we represented Division II in the championship against the Division I winner, Marietta High School. Marietta is a great team that has earned the right more than once to compete for the top honor in HRRB. Our team came out strong in the first round, answering the first five questions in the fifteen-question round. After round one, BI had a lead of 100-40. We would only need to answer five more questions correctly to clinch the championship. When the second round was complete, we posted a score of 80-70, easily securing the win and the championship 180-110. We are extremely proud of our students for setting a goal, working harder than we asked them to, and for carrying themselves like true champions at each competition in which they participated. They are fine representatives of Bradwell Institute, and we can’t wait to begin the process all over again with the same group of students next August!

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Here Come the Tigers!

Today is travel day! We are now on the bus and on the way to Athens and the University of Georgia for the state Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl tomorrow. Wish us luck as we compete for the final time this season!

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Weeding is Underway

For those outside of the library world, weeding is tedious work done in a yard or garden. In a library, weeding describes the tedious work involved with keeping a collection accurate, current, and relevant for patrons. To do this, items in the library collection must be systematically reviewed to determine whether they need to be removed or replaced. Mrs. Lukkarinen and I decided last year when we started working together that we wanted to make it a priority to thoroughly weed our entire collection. We decided to start with the most difficult section, our non-fiction collection. Here are a few photos that show our progress so far.

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We have already noticed an increase in non-fiction circulation, in part because our new book displays are catching our student’s attention, and in part because the old, outdated resources are no longer overpowering the current, quality selections. While we have removed most of the very oldest and most out of date items, we will need to revisit this section over the next few years as our budget permits to replace some resources with newer and better editions. We have been very fortunate to have a media practicum student, Kate, who has taken on the remainder of the non-fiction project. Her displays are really eye-catching, and she is working diligently to make sure that the books are grouped appropriately by section. Mrs. Lukkarinen and I will move on to fiction next week as Kate completes that last few sections of non-fiction.

Categories: Collection Development, Photos | Leave a comment

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