Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top Shelf TexQuest Usage

Kudos to MISD librarians, teachers and students! We made the list of top users of TexQuest for the month of October! 

Below is an excerpt from the December Texas School Libraries newsletter, sent out monthly by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

TexQuest Usage in October 2014
We have started to analyze some of the usage statistics that will soon be available for you through the State Library's ChalkDUST application and your TPS Report, and we are pleased to recognize several districts and schools with amazing usage numbers in the month of October. We are collecting three COUNTER 4 Measures: Regular Searches, Result Clicks, and Record Views. For more on these measures, see the COUNTER website. These stats are presented by product; your district or school might have higher totals for all of the resources combined - I'm still working on those! :-)

  • Most District Searches - Katy ISD - 14,878 (Opposing Viewpoints in Context)
  • Most District Record Views - Mesquite ISD - 13,273 (National Geographic Kids)
  • Most District Result Clicks - Katy ISD - 12,374 (Opposing Viewpoints in Context)
  • Most High School Campus Searches - Klein Oak HS - 8,923 (Opposing Viewpoints in Context)
  • Most High School Campus Record Views - Deer Park HS - 7,610 (Literature Resource Center)
  • Most High School Campus Result Clicks - Deer Park HS - 7,591 (Literature Resource Center)
  • Most Middle School Campus Searches - Monzano Middle (Brownsville ISD) - 2,713 (InfoTrac Newsstand)
  • Most Middle School Campus Record Views - Cobb Middle (Frisco ISD) - 1,317 (Opposing Viewpoints in Context)
  • Most Middle School Campus Result Clicks - Cobb Middle (Frisco ISD) - 1,268 (Opposing Viewpoints in Context)
  • Most Elementary School Campus Searches - Presa EL (Ysleta ISD) - 2,349 (Kids InfoBits)
  • Most Elementary School Campus Record Views - Tough EL (Conroe ISD) - 5,395 (National Geographic Kids)
  • Most Elementary School Campus Result Clicks - Presa EL (Ysleta ISD) - 1,392 (Kids InfoBits)

Out and about

Mr. Schu, school librarian and blogger extraordinaire, started taking Vine videos of things that were happening in his library and posting them to his blog. Here's one of his posts:

Last week told through Vines

Since I'm not one to let a good idea go unstolen, I tried making my own Vines during last week's walkthroughs. Here are some of the things that were going on in MISD libraries last week.

SOLE research at Pirrung Elementary

National History Day projects and computer use at Berry Middle School. (I didn't get the other class that was doing SSR before my time ran out.)

Pictures with Santa at Rutherford Elementary

A great genre display at Kimball Elementary (Buffie was at lunch when I was there, so she doesn't even know I took this - heh heh heh).

Isn't that fun? Who will be Vined next???

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

12 Books of Christmas--Day 12

For the 12th book of Christmas a good friend gave to me...
Getting Things Done by David Allen

The new year is almost upon us with new year's resolutions right behind! If you have "get more organized" on your list, this book is for you. I read it several years ago and still use many of the methods like the "2-minute rule".  If a task takes less than 2 minutes, do it and move on.

From Goodreads:
"...In Getting Things Done Allen shows how to:

* Apply the "do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it" rule to get your in-box to empty
* Reassess goals and stay focused in changing situations
* Plan projects as well as get them unstuck
* Overcome feelings of confusion, anxiety, and being overwhelmed
* Feel fine about what you're not doing

From core principles to proven tricks, Getting Things Done can transform the way you work, showing you how to pick up the pace without wearing yourself down."

Monday, December 15, 2014

12 Books of Christmas - Day 11

For the 11th book of Christmas, a good friend gave to me...

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This is one of the best books I read this year. It broke my heart and I used up lots of Kleenex with this one! You've been warned.

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time. (Goodreads summary)

Friday, December 12, 2014

12 Books of Christmas--Day 10

For the 10th book of Christmas a good friend gave to me...The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

You may remember this book being in the news recently.  It was on the Highland Park controversial book list that some wanted to ban. It brought home to me the fact that we never know what our students live through at home.

Goodreads synopsis:
"The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing--a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family."

Thursday, December 11, 2014

12 Books of Christmas - Day 9

For the 9th book of Christmas, a good friend gave to me...

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

How to describe this book? Richly imagined, haunting, hypnotic, beautiful, totally original. I've really never read anything else like it. Here's the summary from Goodreads:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called "Le Cirque des Reves," and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway--a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12 Books of Christmas--Day 8

For the 8th book of Christmas a good friend gave to me... Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

I actually listened to the audio book from the digital library for this one.  The reading is well done and pulls you in quickly.  Think a dark "Groundhog Day". Below is the Goodreads synopsis.

"...For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12—"Cupid Day"—should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is…until she dies in a terrible accident that night.

However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

12 Books of Christmas - Day 7

For the 7th book of Christmas, a good friend gave to me...

I'm a sucker for a good productivity blog or book - always tweaking my organizational methods and looking for better ways to keep track of all I have to do. This book is written in short little chapters that have great ideas for how to stay focused and not get bogged down with time wasters - like maybe reading productivity books? Ha. 

Here's the Goodreads summary:

Based upon his weekly Harvard Business Review columns (which is one of the most popular columns on, receiving hundreds of thousands of unique page views a month), 18 MINUTES clearly shows how busy people can cut through all the daily clutter and distractions and find a way to focus on those key items which are truly the top priorities in our lives.

Monday, December 8, 2014

12 Books of Christmas--Day 6

For the 6th book of Christmas a good friend gave to me...

Ten little fingers and ten little toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

A friend recommended this to me when my granddaughter was born several years ago. (almost 6 years ago!! wow) It has become my favorite to gift for new babies and is PERFECT as the bedtime "go to" book.Would make a great Christmas gift for anyone with small children. Below is the starred review from Booklist.

*Starred Review* A standout for its beautiful simplicity, this picture-book collaboration between Fox and Oxenbury aims a message of diversity and tolerance at very young children. The first lines set up the text’s repetition and rhythm: “There was one little baby who was born far away. And another who was born on the very next day. And both of these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers and ten little toes.” The subsequent spreads follow the same theme in similarly bouncing, rhyming lines: babies around the world may be different (one baby is born near ice, another in a desert tent), but the refrain of each baby’s 10 fingers and toes reminds us of what we all share. Oxenbury’s spare pencil-and-watercolor pictures, set against pure white pages, zero in on pudgy little hands and feet, offering many interactive opportunities for young viewers to point and count. Clusters of adorable multicultural babies from around the world toddle across the pages until just one child receives three kisses on the nose from her loving mom, a sweet gesture that parents will want to act out with their own children. A gentle, joyous offering. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Gillian Engberg

Friday, December 5, 2014

December literacy meeting

Yesterday I attended the elementary Literacy Specialists' December meeting. They continued the discussion of genre and had a book exchange. 

Click here for my notes.

MISD Literacy Specialists

Invent to Learn book study

Secondary librarians met this week to discuss chapters 5-7 of Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom by Syliva Libow Martinez and Gary Stager. Because some of the group could not attend, we supplemented our face to face discussion with a Twitter chat under the #misdlibraries hashtag.

I compiled the tweets using a tool called Storify and the result is below for your review. (click through to see embedded content).

12 Books of Christmas - Day 5

For the 5th book of Christmas, a good friend gave to me...

Choices. Seventeen-year-old Mia is faced with some tough ones: Stay true to her first love—music—even if it means losing her boyfriend and leaving her family and friends behind?

Then one February morning Mia goes for a drive with her family, and in an instant, everything changes. Suddenly, all the choices are gone, except one. And it's the only one that matters.

If I Stay is a heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make. (Goodreads summary)

Skip the badly reviewed movie version and read this wonderful YA novel instead. So, so good!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

12 Books of Christmas--Day 4

For the 4th book of Christmas a good friend gave to me... Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

You may have seen the movie but the book is so detailed and gives such vivid descriptions of the life of a US Navy SEAL and one momentous mission.  Read the book!! This gave me such pride in our armed forces and the sacrifices they make for us every day!  Below is from Goodreads.

"This is the story of fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of Operation Redwing, and the desperate battle in the mountains that led, ultimately, to the largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history. But it is also, more than anything, the story of his teammates, who fought ferociously beside him until he was the last one left-blasted unconscious by a rocket grenade, blown over a cliff, but still armed and still breathing. Over the next four days, badly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell fought off six al Qaeda assassins who were sent to finish him, then crawled for seven miles through the mountains before he was taken in by a Pashtun tribe, who risked everything to protect him from the encircling Taliban killers.

A six-foot-five-inch Texan, Leading Petty Officer Luttrell takes us, blow-by-blow, through the brutal training of America's warrior elite and the relentless rites of passage required by the Navy SEALs. He transports us to a monstrous battle fought in the desolate peaks of Afghanistan, where the beleaguered American team plummeted headlong a thousand feet down a mountain as they fought back through flying shale and rocks. In this rich , moving chronicle of courage, honor, and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers one of the most powerful narratives ever written about modern warfare-and a tribute to his teammates, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country."

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

12 Books of Christmas - Day 3

For the 3rd book of Christmas, a good friend gave to me...

Forget everything you think you know about Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Previous books and films, including the brilliant 1967 movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, have emphasized the supposed glamour of America's most notorious criminal couple, thus contributing to ongoing mythology. The real story is completely different -- and far more fascinating. (Goodreads summary)

This book WAS fascinating to me. As a third generation Dallas native, it was so interesting to read about familiar places and try to picture what those areas of Dallas looked like in the 1930s. I also remember my granddaddy telling me about when he went to see the bodies of Bonnie and Clyde laid out in the funeral home. With newly revealed information from surviving family members, this book was extremely well-researched and written.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

12 Books of Christmas--Day 2

For the 2nd book of Christmas, a good friend gave to me...

Family crisis, suspense, guilt and betrayal!!  What more could you want?
William Landay was a former district attorney and knows exactly how to write about crime.  Defending Jacob was a New York Times bestseller a couple of years ago.  Below is from Landay's website.  This is a book that stayed with me long after I read it.

"At home, Andy Barber is a quiet family man, a devoted husband and father. At work, he is a trusted senior prosecutor, the District Attorney’s right hand and master trial lawyer.

When a teenaged boy is found dead in the woods near Barber’s suburban home, naturally he takes on the investigation, as he has countless homicides before. But the case may be Barber’s undoing: in an unexpected swerve, Barber’s own 14-year-old son, Jacob, is accused of the murder.

The boy insists he is innocent, and Barber rallies to his son’s defense — as any father would, he thinks, as any father must. But defending Jacob exacts a terrible price. Neighbors lock their doors against him. Jacob’s classmates refuse to talk. Barber’s marriage begins to crumble as his beloved wife Laurie buckles under the relentless pressure of suspicion. Finally, as Jacob’s trial intensifies, Barber faces a trial of his own, in which he is forced to confront his own secret history, a past he thought he’d buried long ago."

Monday, December 1, 2014

12 Books of Christmas - Day 1

In honor of the traditional holiday song, the 12 Days of Christmas, we will celebrate these three weeks before Winter Break with a 12 Books of Christmas project. Debbie and I will be recommending a book a day here on our blog. As the 12 days rush by, we hope you find something worth reading as a holiday treat for yourself. 

For the first book of Christmas, a good friend gave to me:

In looking at my Goodreads account, I see that I have given all of Kate Morton's books 5 stars. They always have two things that I love: an English country setting and a dark secret from the past. Here's the Goodreads synopsis of The Secret Keeper:

During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past.

Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.