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Books and Beyond

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Ready for Recounts


The 'Helping Schools Grade 1 Networ'k that took place at POW this last week asked if I could pull together a few resources to support their scaffolding of Recount Writing.  Recount is identifies as non-fiction and so it is tough to find but here are a few ideas in the form of Picture books that offer a fictional recount experience.


Below is a list recommended by other educators on Good Reads.  I think you will recognize a few.  Below I have suggested a few of my own.  I'll keep adding to this post:)




 Wordless books perhaps provide the best retell:)











Writing for the Senses


Readers have expectations


Old Devil Wind

hickory Chair

Owl Moon

For my ‘Yorkie’ Book Buddies


What do teacher-librarians teach





Knowing you instructor,  I am assured that you have become die hard book lovers!  I am happy to share with you a few of my passions as TL in HPEDSB.  Above all else my priority to to help students understand that reading happens not on a page or within the movement of the ink on that paper but true reading and comprehesion happens in our minds.  Challenging students to make the "mind connection" means intentional teaching of those "Big Ideas".  Unless students can identify themes and big ideas they cannot think critically about author's intent and purpose.  I have several activities that help me support students as the "dig deeper" into text be it narrative, informational, graphic or digital:)







Book Talks/Trailers


Comic Life and Animoto


Literature Circles




Bullying Awareness Week – Nov 13-19th

“No, you don't know what it's like
When nothing feels all right
You don't know what it's like
To be like me
To be hurt
To feel lost
To be left out in the dark
To be kicked when you're down
To feel like you've been pushed around
To be on the edge of breaking down
And no one's there to save you
No, you don't know what it's like
Welcome to my life”
Simple Plan


   * Here I share 2 of Trudy Ludwig's books.  Both are powerful reads and we all are aware of kids and situations just like these!  I find it interesting that one book seems to address girls and the other boys.  I wonder how intentional that was?  My recommendation is read them both! (There are also great resources and discussion starters in the back of both)

My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig

Lugwig touches on the "relational" bulling that often happens among girls in a school setting.  Instead of words, fists or aggression it is gestures and whispers among hidden networks of friends.  Empowering the Bullied to stand up and break the cycle of aggression helps heal the pain of secrecy!  This young girl finds support from her mother and interestingly enough in Just kidding it is a father.  Parents are a great resource!


Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig

Vince makes D.J the butt of every joke.  D.J is trying to fit in but finds his frustration mounting by the constant teasing.  After sharing the problem with Dad D.J tries several strategies.  I love that the first strategy work but only temporarily and in turn they need the support of the school to intervene!  The teacher does not have all the answers either.  It faces the complexity of bullying with honesty and candor.




The Only One Club by Jane Naliboff 

 A simple and profound story about the uniqueness found in each and every one of us the the importance of feeling as if you belong.  Conversations about the book can really dig deep into school "cliques" and bulling by exclusion.  I love the multicultural twist too!






This book hits close to home as the bullies choose to attach when the "teachers were busy and couldn't see"  This book is all about the importance of the bystander.  I am a little worried about this on and it offers a very "easy" solution to a very complex problem.  I do love the message to GET HELP and that schools are there to help.





Pinduli by Janelle Cannon – I love all of Janell Cannon's books as they are all about being comfortable with who you are.  Once again another unique character faces doubt about himself as the other African animals criticize him!

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Book Brag Tuesday!


Well, I have officially decided I am a lousy blogger!  It seems I have lost my way and have decided to include some structures to help keep me sharing!  Tuesday Book Brags will share what I am reading each week and offer new ideas for those librarians looking for something new:)



Woolbur by Leslie Helankoski introduces us to a 21st Century Sheep!  This book is not about the technology tools but about the 21C mindset.  He is unlike any sheep we know!  He does not stay with the herd, shear wool or spin wool.  He is a 'one of a kind', creative innovator who stands against the herd.  His parents are worried that her is not like the other sheep but Woolbur and his grandfather show them all the power of being one of a kind!









Are You Quite Polite?  Music, Manners and Humour are all rolled up into a wonderful collection of lyrics.  Traditional Tunes like "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" support Don't Chew Gum in the Classroom.  I hope the kids still know these traditional old tunes:)  Actually I found it hard to remember them as a teacher!

Occasional Teachers Leading the Way as Information Specialists!


All too often you might be asked to head down to the computer lab to allow for some "research".  You watch as students wrestle to find materials that are age appropriate, engaging and reliable and readable.  Here are a few tips to help you as you support student Information Literacy Skills


On every desktop in 'Teacher Apps' you will find a Star icon

SHOW your screen to students

MONITOR their work

LOGOFF all machines


Website Reliability Resources.






:Evaluating Websites

hoax websites

Sarah's Plagerism worksheet!

Taking Research Notes[1]



Online Encyclopedias – readability




Class Mouse




Just for Fun!


Welcome Back!


I must admit to being a "bad blogger". As school has kicked off at two new sites for me I have focused on school blogs and have left my professional reflections in the dust.  This is a space I love to celebrate things that inspire me.  This poster is the inspiration for my 2011-2012!  This is who I am and aspire to be!

Begin your “awesome” break with an “awesome” book!



Recently, I have been enjoyed reading The Book of Awesome  by Neil Pasricha and his blog 1000 Awesome Things.  Neil takes time to celebrate the everyday things we so often miss in the craziness of our lives and I just cannot say enough how "awesome" all our HPEDSB teachers are as we end our year!  With summer break just around the corner, it is so important we take time to celebrate the "awesome" things (big and small) that happened in classrooms across HPEDSB in 2010-2011.  All year long teachers have showed again and again amazing energy, expertise and commitment to their classrooms and student learning.  Now it it time to relax, refresh and renew our spirits!  What better way to relax than with a book!

On Neil's "awesome" list #236 is "When you hit that point in the book where you suddenly can’t stop reading".  I wish you many of these moments this summer!  Often teachers ask for book recommendations and I find that so difficult as I know reading preferences among kids and teachers are incredibly diverse.  Fortunately, I did have had the awesome pleasure this year of sharing my reading journey with an awesome group of educators in my Book Club and I cannot encourage teachers enough to get together with friends and talk about what you are reading.  Below are some of the books we can say allowed us to "hit that point in the book where we couldn't stop reading".  Try one off this list:)



The Book of Negroes  by Lawrence Hill

Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle – a string of slaves – Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic "Book of Negroes". This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own. Aminata's eventual return to Sierra Leone – passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America – is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

Half Broke Horses and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Half Broke Horses is the true-life story of Lily Casey Smith, grandmother of Jeannette Walls. It's a compelling story in which we follow this amazingly strong and resourceful woman through her challenging life. At the age of 6, we find Lily helping her father to break horses in. At age 15 she is working independently at a teaching job that she loves, enduring a 500 mile solitary and dangerous journey to get there. A little later we find her the mother of two children, one of which is familiar to some Jeannette Walls fans, as the memorable mother, Rosemary Smith-Walls from the book The Glass Castle. Constantly, Lily finds her life to be a struggle as she survives tornadoes, personal heartbreak, the Great Depression and much more, all of which makes Half Broke Horses one of those books that you will find it hard to put down.

Cutting for Stone

Cutting for Stone  by Abraham Verghese

This epic family saga spans through the 1950s to present time and travels from Ethiopia to America and back again. A brilliant tale that starts off with an Indian nun working as a nurse in Ethiopia surprisingly going into labor with complications. Her twin sons are delivered alive but she dies on the table and the white doctor who is assumed to be the father refuses to look at the boys and leaves the Mission Hospital never to return again. This, then, is the story of the twins, Marion and Shiva, told through the eyes of Marion, the first born. The story of how they were as one person together until the day that betrayal over a woman tore them apart. An intense story that centres around medicine as the doctors and nurses try to help the poor of Ethiopia but also spans the history of this country from an autonomous monarchy through two coups, and a Marxist regime.


Room by Emma Donoghue

As a narrator, five-year-old Jack is tremendously enticing. His mother, kidnapped seven years earlier while walking through her college campus at age 19, has created a world for her son that is rich in play and learning, all the while anticipating the day they might make their “great escape.” This environment has provided Jack with an impressive vocabulary, though his advanced learning is juxtaposed with the natural innocence and bewilderment of a small child. The result is a story told through a child’s eyes, but in language that is endearing rather than tiresome.

The character of Ma, while not the main voice, is nevertheless whole. Donoghue employs Jack’s descriptions of her moods, conversations, and thoughts to paint a picture of a woman struggling to keep it together for the sake of her child, while also fighting to become the person she once was and might be again, if circumstances allow.

Room is disturbing, thrilling, and emotionally compelling. Emma Donoghue has produced a novel that is sure to stay in the minds of readers for years to come.


Little Bee: A Novel

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

The publishers of Chris Cleave's new novel "don't want to spoil" the story by revealing too much about it, and there's good reason not to tell too much about the plot's pivot point. All you should know going in to Little Bee is that what happens on the beach is brutal, and that it braids the fates of a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan (who calls herself Little Bee) and a well-off British couple–journalists trying to repair their strained marriage with a free holiday–who should have stayed behind their resort's walls. The tide of that event carries Little Bee back to their world, which she claims she couldn't explain to the girls from her village because they'd have no context for its abundance and calm. But she shows us the infinite rifts in a globalized world, where any distance can be crossed in a day–with the right papers–and "no one likes each other, but everyone likes U2." Where you have to give up the safety you'd assumed as your birthright if you decide to save the girl gazing at you through razor wire, left to the wolves of a failing state. –Mari Malcolm  

 The Paris Wife: A Novel

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Most of us know or think we know who Ernest Hemingway was — a brilliant writer full of macho swagger, driven to take on huge feats of bravery and a pitcher or two of martinis — before lunch. But beneath this man or myth, or some combination of the two, is another Hemingway, one we’ve never seen before. Hadley Richardson, Hemingway’s first wife, is the perfect person to reveal him to us — and also to immerse us in the incredibly exciting and volatile world of Jazz-age Paris.  

 The Space Between Us: A Novel

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

Thrity Umigas's poignant novel about a wealthy woman and her downtrodden servant, offers a revealing look at class and gender roles in modern day Bombay. Alternatively told through the eyes of Sera, a Parsi widow whose pregnant daughter and son-in-law share her elegant home, and Bhima, the elderly housekeeper who must support her orphaned granddaughter, Umrigar does an admirable job of creating two sympathetic characters whose bond goes far deeper than that of employer and employee.
When we first meet Bhima, she is sharing a thin mattress with Maya, the granddaughter upon whom high hopes and dreams were placed, only to be shattered by an unexpected pregnancy and its disastrous consequences. As time goes on, we learn that Sera and her family have used their power and money time and time again to influence the lives of Bhima and Maya, from caring for Bhima's estranged husband after a workplace accident, to providing the funds for Maya's college education. We also learn that Sera's seemingly privileged life is not as it appears; after enduring years of cruelty under her mother-in-law's roof, she faced physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband, pain that only Bhima could see and alleviate. Yet through the triumphs and tragedies, Sera and Bhima always shared a bond that transcended class and race; a bond shared by two women whose fate always seemed to rest in the hands of others, just outside their control.  

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shafffer

The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

The Deep End of the Ocean (Oprah's Book Club)

The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard

The horror of losing a child is somehow made worse when the case goes unsolved for nearly a decade, reports Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Jacquelyn Mitchard in this searing first novel. In it, 3-year-old Ben Cappadora is kidnapped from a hotel lobby where his mother is checking into her 15th high school reunion. His disappearance tears the family apart and invokes separate experiences of anguish, denial, and self-blame. Marital problems and delinquency in Ben's older brother (in charge of him the day of his kidnapping) ensue. Mitchard depicts the family's friction and torment–along with many gritty realities of family life–with the candor of a journalist and compassion of someone who has seemingly been there. International publishing and movie rights sold fast on this one: It's a blockbuster.

No and Me by delphine de Vigan

Lou Bertignac has an IQ of 160 and a good friend in class rebel Lucas. At home her father puts a brave face on things but cries in secret in the bathroom, while her mother rarely speaks and hardly ever leaves the house. To escape this desolate world, Lou goes often to Gare d'Austerlitz to see the big emotions in the smiles and tears of arrival and departure. But there she also sees the homeless, meets a girl called No, only a few years older than herself, and decides to make homelessness the topic of her class presentation. Bit by bit, Lou and No become friends until, the project over, No disappears. Heartbroken, Lou asks her parents the unaskable question and her parents say: Yes, No can come to live with them. So Lou goes down into the underworld of Paris's street people to bring her friend up to the light of a home and family life, she thinks.


 The Birth House

The Birth House by Ami McKay

Dora Rare is the first girl in five generations born to the Rare family who live in a small Nova Scotia fishing village. Set in the years before World War I, this down-to-earth novel relates the life story of a most unusual woman. In her youth, Dora apprentices to Miss Babineau, an aged Acadian midwife known for her storytelling and herbal acumen. She is also considered something of a witch by those locals most desperate to embrace modernity. The arrival in the village of Dr. Gilbert Thomas, a doctor of obstetrics, sets up the major conflict of the novel as the haughty and presumptuous newcomer quickly denigrates the use of midwives by the local women. McKay has caught the voice of rural Nova Scotia with uncanny clarity ("A breech baby’s just waitin' on trouble") and adds period documents from local newspapers, including an advertisement for an early vibrator from Sweden. Altogether this is a richly satisfying novel filled with intriguing characters, both good and evil, as well as voluminous lore on birthing traditions, herbs and earthy wisdom. –Mark Frutkin

 Crow Lake (Today Show Book Club #7)

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

Canadian writer Mary Lawson's debut novel is a beautifully crafted and shimmering tale of love, death, and redemption. The story, narrated by 26-year-old Kate Morrison, is set in the eponymous Crow Lake, an isolated rural community where time has stood still. The reader dives in and out of a year's worth of Kate's childhood memories–when she was 7 and her parents were killed in an automobile accident that left Kate, her younger sister Bo, and two older brothers, Matt and Luke, orphaned. When Kate, the successful zoologist and professor who is accustomed to dissecting everything through a microscope, receives an invitation to Matt's son's 18th birthday party, she must suddenly analyze her own relationship and come to terms with her past before she forsakes a future with the man she loves. Kate is still in turmoil over the events of that fateful summer and winter 20 years ago when the tragedy of another local family, the Pyes, spilled over into their lives with earth-shattering consequences. But does the tragedy really lie in the past or the present? Lawson's narrative flows effortlessly in ever-increasing circles, swirling impressions in the reader's mind until form takes shape and the reader is left to reflect on the whole. Crow Lake is a wonderful achievement that will ripple in and out of the reader's consciousness long after the last page is turned. –Nicola Perry,  

 Fall on Your Knees

Fall on Your Knees  by Ann-Marie MacDonald

Fall on your Knees tells the story of several generations of the Piper family of Cape Breton, beginning with the marriage of James Piper, the controlling, emotionally stunted son of Gaelic-speaking Scottish Canadians, and Materia Mahmoud, the 13-year-old daughter of wealthy Lebanese immigrants. Materia's father cuts her off from her family for marrying James, and James in turn forces her to deny both her heritage and her emotions. James, out of a spite even he fails to comprehend, focuses all his attention on Kathleen, his first-born and a musical prodigy. He dotes on her and sends her away to study opera in New York. However, Kathleen's unexpected return from New York, where she has made some discoveries that will ultimately turn her father against her, becomes the centre of an intricately plotted series of tragedies involving each of the Piper sisters. In a startlingly skilful manipulation of prose, MacDonald teases out clues, secrets, and revelations that are both delightful to discover and disturbing to consider. –Jonathan Dewar

 No Great Mischief

 No Great Mischief by Alistar MacLeod

From the moment Alexander MacDonald sets out along Highway 3 in southwestern Ontario to visit his alcoholic brother living in a cheap Toronto lodging house, this sturdily textured debut novel never hesitates or meanders. There are plenty of diverse characters, changing scenes, and gripping incidents to keep it rolling. Four generations of MacDonalds move through the pages of this bookDfrom the first to arrive in Cape Breton from Scotland in 1779 to narrator Alexander, an orthodontist, and his siblings. MacLeod, who has been heralded in his native Canada as a master of the short story, exhibits a remarkable ability to create and handle an intricate plot that goes back and forth between past and present. Though sentimentality plays a considerable part in the unfolding of the drama, MacLeod's clever writing disciplines and subdues it. The book deserves to be a big popular success.DA.J. Anderson, GSLIS, Simmons Coll., Boston
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Before Green Gables

Before she arrived at Green Gables  by Budge Wilson

 Anne Shirley had a difficult early life. Orphaned as a baby, she is sent from one foster-home to the next, caring for other people's children though but a child herself, and escaping from her dark reality through the power of her vivid imagination. Curious, inventive, and outspoken, even at a young age, Anne battles to make a life for herself by searching out kindred spirits, finding solace in her books, and dreaming of the day she has a family of her own. Award-winning author Budge Wilson brings young Anne vibrantly to life in this highly anticipated and fully authorized prequel to the much-loved Anne of Green Gables.

Light and Long   


Pillars of the Earth  by Ken Follett

Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through 40 years of social and political upheaval as internal church politics affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. "Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale," judged PW.


 Outlander by Diana Gabldoni

In Outlander, a 600-page time-travel romance, strong-willed and sensual Claire Randall leads a double life with a husband in one century, and a lover in another. Torn between fidelity and desire, she struggles to understand the pure intent of her heart. But don't let the number of pages and the Scottish dialect scare you. It's one of the fastest reads you'll have in your library.


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragpn Tattoo by Steig Larsson

Cases rarely come much colder than the decades-old disappearance of teen heiress Harriet Vanger from her family's remote island retreat north of Stockholm, nor do fiction debuts hotter than this European bestseller by muckraking Swedish journalist Larsson. At once a strikingly original thriller and a vivisection of Sweden's dirty not-so-little secrets (as suggested by its original title, Men Who Hate Women), this first of a trilogy introduces a provocatively odd couple: disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist, freshly sentenced to jail for libeling a shady businessman, and the multipierced and tattooed Lisbeth Salander, a feral but vulnerable superhacker. Hired by octogenarian industrialist Henrik Vanger, who wants to find out what happened to his beloved great-niece before he dies, the duo gradually uncover a festering morass of familial corruption—at the same time, Larsson skillfully bares some of the similar horrors that have left Salander such a marked woman. Larsson died in 2004, shortly after handing in the manuscripts for what will be his legacy.

Briar Rose

Briar Rose by Jane Yolan

Yolen takes the story of Briar Rose (commonly known as Sleeping Beauty) and links it to the Holocaust–a far-from-obvious connection that she makes perfectly convincing. Rebecca Berlin, a young woman who has grown up hearing her grandmother Gemma tell an unusual and frightening version of the Sleeping Beauty legend, realizes when Gemma dies that the fairy tale offers one of the very few clues she has to her grandmother's past. To discover the facts behind Gemma's story, Rebecca travels to Poland, the setting for the book's most engrossing scenes and its most interesting, best-developed characters. By interpolating Gemma's vivid and imaginative story into the larger narrative, Yolen has created an engrossing novel. She handles a difficult subject with finesse in a book that should be required reading for anyone who is tempted to dismiss fantasy as a frivolous genre.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

 The Hunger Games

 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the other districts in line by forcing them to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight-to-the-death on live TV.

One boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and sixteen are selected by lottery to play. The winner brings riches and favor tohis or her district. But that is nothing compared to what the Capitol wins: one more year of fearful compliance with its rule. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her impoverished district in the Games.

But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Suzanne Collins




Blogging Bonanza


Great math videos for your students


I discovered a great math tool today called Mathtrain.TV.  These math videos are created for kids by kids.Check them out: )

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