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UnSouled (Unwind, #3)UnSouled by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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I don’t know how Neal Shusterman is so capable of churning out novels that just suck me right in!! I truly dislike sequels and series, but I now cannot WAIT for the final installment in the Unwind series (er, I mean, um, new word–>”dystology”) to come out. Best, this is a series my high school guys can truly get into. Thanks, Neal for forcing me to read against my will. I think it will work for the guys in my teaching context too.

I have been seriously considering this Follett Challenge each year that it has been out, and this year I even have ideas swimming around in my head ready to spill out into a video and an application!  I’ll keep you posted on my progress. A lot of my ideas actually happen next week, so I’m charging up the camcorder to video document as we go. Two awesome projects happen with collaborating teachers, one using Destiny and Destiny Quest, (the previous link alludes to my idea, which I’ll talk about Monday evening, December 2 on the TL Cafe Annual Smackdown) and the other using Popplet with a science class research project. Actually, the Popplet project might even be a better project for the Follett Challenge. So very thankful for willing collaborative teachers at my school! They make it easy to consider these kinds of opportunities. So, tonight I add a link to sport on my sidebar, in hopes of encouraging others and myself to follow through. Who else is planning an entry in the Follett Challenge? Read about previous winners’ projects here.


My slide contribution for the TL Cafe 3rd Annual Tool Smackdown

That’s right. I’m stepping up to the virtual mic on Tuesday, December 2, 2013 at 8PM for the 3rd annual TL Cafe (Teacher Librarian Cafe) EduTech to share the tools I used to do a recent Book Speed Dating activity. It’s open-mic night. Will you be there??

by Gwyneth Jones

Who, What, When, Where?

It’s all online of course. Grab you headset with a mic, slap a slide in there, and step up.

In the words of the moderator herself:
It’s a rich, crowd-souced presentation/book. So grab a fresh slide (or two!) and share your Learning Tools tips, info, or resources! (Gwyneth Jones)

I hope to see many virtual friends in attendance AND participating.

Our school is experiencing an Innovation “grant,” and I’d like to thinks we can move in this direction. Thanks Scott for sharing this.

Screenshot from my Feedly account

Yesterday I worked on my #Eddies13 Nominations. Of course I had to visit my reader to see which ones stick out for me before making my nominations, looking for the profound and memorable. I have so much in my reader sometimes things get lost. That happens when there are 273 feeds there. And daily I find myself adding to the group. Usually when I add something lately, I go in and remove a few. That happens. My interests change or those in my reader have for whatever reason stopped sharing.
What RSS reader to use?

Screenshot from a recent staff development.

Today in the SLS Cool Tools Facebook Group I belong to a question was posed about preferred readers: Do any of you have an RSS reader you like? Still mourning Google Reader here.  It reminded me of earlier this month when I visited a neighboring district to spend time with them for staff development where I used a portion of our time to explore some readers. These are the ones we explored:

  • Feedly
  • BlogLovin’
  • Feedspot
  • Netvibes
  • FlipBoard
  • Zite

Taking a brief look

I had around 25 school librarian participants, so I just allowed them to group up by grade level band, with two groups being elementary. I gave them an overview of each reader via YouTube, trying desperately not to be biased (since I am a Feedly fan.) I explained that some of these were definitely more tablet-friendly while others were more web-friendly. I even shared that some of these are both web-based AND have a tablet format (like Feedly.) We watched short YouTube videos that gave a brief overview of each service, then separated into our groups to get busy using one. Here’s my playlist link for exploring the ones groups could choose.

The task

Their task was to as a group select a feed reader, and using some links I had provided, subscribe and read in the chosen reader. They were to then report back to the group their ah-ha moments regarding the service they were trying out as well as new voices they’d discovered for inspiration. You see my staff development had been titled “From Information Literacy to Information Relevancy” and this portion of the 2.5 hours was focused on how to stay relevant and on the cutting edge of everything, and I was trying to make the point that being well-read is one way to stay on top of new literacies, helping librarians stay one step ahead of their students (if possible!)

Not enough time!

While we ran out of time and never did get to the part of sharing (poor planning on my part perhaps) I can distinctly remember reactions, discoveries, struggles, and even frustrations expressed from my groups. A few in the group of 25 were well versed in using a reader, so I asked them to try a different one for the task, even if it meant moving to a different group. Half of the group was using a laptop of some kind, while the others were using a tablet of some kind.  The iPad apps were the ones that caused the most frustration, but based on my experience, one just has to give it a little time to really understand it and then channel your feeds into it. Time was one thing we did not have as a group.
20/20 looking back

I am thinking readers and finding inspiration is probably a workshop topic all by itself in hind sight.  Oh well. Or next time I’ll provide the links to the videos and reader services ahead of time, and do a “flipped PD approach” asking them to first research the reader, choose one, and then use it, all so we can have the discussion my workshop attendees missed here. Maybe at their next after school get together they can revisit this discussion on their own.
In summary

For those still looking for a reader, I leave you with these tips. If you’re more comfortable on a tablet, then you’ll probably like the ones that are showcased in my playlist with a tablet. If more comfortable on a computer, then those above that are shown on a computer screen are probably best. If you’re looking for a Google reader like experience, use my choice, Feedly, though Blodlovin and Feedspot also offer a similar experience.

So what reader do you use?

Love all these I’ve listed here!!

Time to nominate some favorites for an Eddie! I didn’t do all the categories, but it’s not required. Many of the other categories I just could not pick a single nomination. They are all good! Many of these are personal acquaintances and friends, which makes it even more special, and all are a very important part of my PLN.  There is also a “lotta” teacher librarian love here!

Screenshots of my Bests

Now please do your nominations. Here are the rules/guidelines.  To nominate your favorites:

  1. Write a post with your nominations for the different categories on your own blog (or a website – anywhere public) – here is an example of a nomination post from 2012.
  2. Send us the link to your nomination post by completing this form here

So go nominate your favorite blogs, twitterers, community sites, videos, podcasts and more… for 2013:

Here are the categories in full – nominations are open from now through Sunday, December 1st

  • Awards_170px_02Best individual blog
  • Best group blog
  • Best new blog
  • Best class blog
  • Best student blog
  • Best ed tech / resource sharing blog
  • Best teacher blog
  • Best library / librarian blog
  • Best administrator blog
  • Most influential blog post of the year
  • Best individual tweeter
  • Best twitter hashtag
  • Best free web tool
  • Best educational use of audio / video / visual / podcast
  • Best educational wiki
  • Best open PD / unconference / webinar series
  • Best educational use of a social network
  • Best mobile app
  • Lifetime achievement

How To Nominate

  1. Write a post with your nominations on your blog, link to them and link to this site
  2. Use this form here to send us a link to your nominations

Nomination tips:

  1. Nominate in as many categories as you want!
  2. You can’t nominate yourself ;)
  3. Nominations must be made somewhere public – your blog, a forum on a ning, a school website, etc.
  4. Even if you see your favorite has already been nominated, it is best to nominate them again
  5. Categories are competitive, and only the most nominated will make it to the voting round
  6. Share your nominations using twitter (#eddies13), facebook, Google+ and email

Add your nominations here:

Enter your nominations using this Nomination form here. You will need to complete the form from home if your School District blocks Google Forms.

Remember to be a valid URL or link it starts with http://


DISCLAIMER: Parts of this post originally appear here.

Image Attributions:
Amore a Cliche. Jackeline Roque. 12 March 2009.
Edublogs Nominations are Open.  Form the Edublogs Awards original post.
My own screenshots stitched together using fotor.com


My favorite art teacher is t it again! S. Eleazer has been scouring the library and school closets looking for outdated, discarded books. Amazing things are going on down the hall in that room, as she has cast a vision for what her sculpting class can do with our weeded library books. My collection age is (how painful to admit!) right at an average copyright date of 2000. So you know we have plenty to share with her when she and her students get inspired. I can’t wait to see how this turns out, and I hope she will allow the library to feature these projects when they are complete. Even as they repurpose, build, sculpt, and mold, it is easy to see that the students are into this project, and it’s no where near done. I can’t wait to share the finished products.



Just in case the slide set is not playing for you, click here to see the pictures of the project that is coming to life.

After such a LATE evening the night before, I slept in, missing the first session. When I arrived I went back to the E-Learning Commons to hear a PLN memnber Francey Harris leading a discussion on teaching digital ethics! Glad I got there in time to be a part of that! This is also where I reconnected withPLN member Karen Kleigman, a fellow librarian from Long Island, NY. It’s so great to see in person these people you have conversed with only in onine spaces.  

Be Essential and Convince Others You Are

I then went to Sally Mays’ and Dawn Nelson’s session “Be Essential and Convince Others You Are.” Many great tips shared and yikes, it’s going to be available in the AASL eCollab too. I went to support my friends, and it was awesome.  Loved the way they allowed the audience to be part of their presentation–lots of sharing and crowd-sourcing in this one! Nice balance and not all sit and get. There were some awesome ideas and first hand testimonials shred by session attendees.

Time for Lunch

Returning to the Learning Commons, I met up with SCASL peeps Anne Lemieux and Diana Carr, and we walked through the city to the Public Library where there was a restaurant inside! What a novel idea! Too bad for us the Kitchen at the Hartford Public Library was closed though, as it is only open in the evenings Monday through Friday, so we walked across the street to a true community market/deli.  It was fantastic, and the owner was really nice to us.  He was sharing some city demographics, letting us know we were only a few blocks from a rough area of the neighborhood, and not go any further away from the convention center than where we ate last night (Peppercron’s Grill) which was just another block away.

Time to Wind Down

Returning to the convention center, I gave the exhibit hall one more walk through, sitting in on two Exhibit Hall short vendor-sponsored sessions, one by CredoReference and one by Follett.  At 1:30, I returned to the Learning Commons to hear Joyce Valenza talk about FlipGrid, Mentor Mob and Popcorn Maker, tools I will definitely check out. We closed down the E-Learning Commons with a very informal LC Tool SmackDown, and I participated by sharing about Socrative and how we are using it in our BYOD environment. I wish I had thought to share that I featured Socrative in one of my “One Tool at a Time” PD sessions for school. Hindsight’s always 20/20.

Time to catch the bus

Cheapest transportation ever to and from an airport–$1.30 Hartford Bradley Flyer, you rock!!

This is when I had to go catch the Bradley Flyer Bus to the airport.  So sad to leave all my friends, but I had such a wonderful time!  I cannot wait for the next AASL conference, and I hope I can figure out a way to return once again.

Highlight of the Day / Lowlight of the Day

Highlight of the day: Learning Commons, and I really didn’t want to leave it today!

Lowlight of the day: Having to leave way too early.  At least I didn’t get stranded at the Hartford Airport like many of my library friends though. The weather later after I was already home turned from bad to worse, with thunderstorms canceling flights and folks camping out waiting for the reassignment of flights and what not! Silver linings!


Picture Attributions:
All pictures in this post are from my own picture feed in Flickr.


Special Thanks:

I am appending to this post a special thanks to the South Carolina State Library and Kathy Sheppard, who tuned me in to and accepted my application for a funding source for travel and attendance at this conference, the American Association of School Librarians 16th Annual Conference and Exhibition.  My funding is directly attributed to the Library Services and Technical Services Act and the U.S. Institute of Museums and Library Services.  I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity these entities have afforded me.


After a full day of sessions and connecting, I returned to the Learning Commons to meet up with Anne Lemieux, Diana Carr, Dawn Nelson, Sally Mays, and Carolyn Foote, and after dropping our bags in Carolyn’s room at the Marriott, we walked over to the Capstone Mixer at the Science Discovery Center next door. Here I got to connect with MANY old and new friends. Here I learned that Nikki Robertson was floored with my remixing of her book speed-dating idea, and loved my pictures which I still had on my phone. I reconnected with Doug JohnsonCarl Harvey, and more—too many to just name names. It was fabulous to be in that energy-filled room talking library shop and enjoying h’orderves.


A Stroll through Hartford at Night

I had RSVP’d to a Mackin Dinner invite, as had most of my group. So we adopted Doug Johnson to walk with us to the Peppercorn’s Grill in downtown Hartford. It was a very interesting walk over to the restaurant. Just look at some of the things we saw along this chilly stroll.

Top: Traveler’s Insurance Office complex – checkout the red umbrelllas! Bottom: The Hartford Public Library had a restaurant called “The Kitchen at Hartford Public Library”

Me, Diana Carr, and Anne Lemieux. SCASL represented at the Mackin Dinner!

I insisted my two SCASL peeps accompany us, as I would try to get them in. If I failed they could aways have dinner at Peppercorn’s.  I am happy to report I was successful in getting them in our group. So many friends were here! It was great reconnecting with everyone, and we had a delicious evening meal filled with fun, fellowship, toasts, and lots of sharing! For dinner, I ate a delicious veggie ravioli, and you can checkout their complete menu here.

Friends, Mackin, and Dinner! What more could I ask for?


Next Up, The AASL13 Unconference

The Unconference was slated for back at the Marriott Ballroom from 9PM-Midnight. Our walking entourage (Me, Carolyn Foote, Dawn Nelson, Sally Mays, Doug Johnson, Anne Lemiuex, and Diana Carr) arrived around 9:15; horrors we were LATE!  The planned schedule went like this:

  • Intro, outline of events, voting on conversations to organize
  • Conversation 1 – attendees choose the group they want to join
  • Conversation 2 – attendees choose the group they want to join
  • Group wide Activity “This Rocks/This Sucks”
  • Favorite Library/Tech Tool Smackdown
  • Cloding and doorprizes

Matthew Winner shares Twitter for newbies!

I joined a Twitter 101 conversation first, mainly because there wasn’t much time left before the next group, and I didn’t know what each group was discussing since I arrived late. It was interesting to hear Matthew Winner and Nikki Robertson lead this conversation. Shortly after we all regrouped and I joined the “Getting YA Students to read” group.  We had a lot of fun comparing stats and sharing how we get reluctant readers to read. I shared my upcoming Destiny Review Project with personalized book selection and my literature circles for the class studying Romeo & Juliet. Everyone had great ideas. Next up was the “This Rocks/This Sucks” and as an entire room of librarians, we were to vote with out feet by listening to a scenario and then moving to areas of the room (rocks, sucks, undecided.) The first scenario was about shelving by genre, and we had three fairly equal groups. I went with the “Sucks” folks because it would be a colossal amount of work to move 25,000 volumes in my library, not to mention adjusting records for location! But the “rocks’ group were quite passionate and compelling. There were some riveting rationales shared as moderators brought mics out for people to share reasons in support or against the issues shared.

As the “GeekTribe” member (a growing group of school librarians who are “connected” educators) or whatever we are called these days, we were asked to step up to the mic from the get go in the Smackdown as a way to encourage everyone to join in.  Here is the on the fly slideset. I say on the fly, because some put their content in well before the evening, but moderator Nikki Robertson expertly and quickly added everyone else’s content as they shared with the group.  It was awesome and I can’t wait to try out new to me tools JUST from the smackdown.


 Closing it Down
Ross J. Todd and Lyn Hay closed down the evening with a comical but often truthful reflection written in ABC order.  I walked away with a mice Mackin doorprize!  I was exhausted but filled with elation over staying the entire evening, connecting face-to-face with so many who daily have the same challenges I have, and making contributions, crowdsourcing and all.  Joyce Valenza summarized the Unconference and Ross J Todd’s ABC list with better pictures and descriptions, so please visit to see her post-unconference report too.


An SC Librarian Unconference/EdCamp/LibCamp?

I so want to organize one of these, and I really think my own school’s library and cafeteria, closee in proximity, could be the ideal place to conduct such an event for librarians. My friend Tamara Cox has said she would come and help. I’m sure I might even be able to convince some of our NC friends to come! This is really weighing heavy on my mind. I need to go check some calendars at school and see if  and when we might can make this happen.
See, I told you Day three was too long for one post!! But that long day was so worth every minute! Tomorrow I’ll share my last day at #AASL13.

Highlight of the Day / Lowlight of the Day

  • Highlight of day (part 2): Unconference, no doubt about it
  • Lowlight of the day (part 2): Some of SCASL peeps bailed long before the Unconference was done!! Not all though, as Susan Dicey stayed to the end right along with me, even making her husband hang around to be an escort back to her hotel! Yay for devoted husbands!!


Picture Attributions:
All pictures in this post are from my own picture feed in Flickr.


Special Thanks:

I am appending to this post a special thanks to the South Carolina State Library and Kathy Sheppard, who tuned me in to and accepted my application for a funding source for travel and attendance at this conference, the American Association of School Librarians 16th Annual Conference and Exhibition.  My funding is directly attributed to the Library Services and Technical Services Act and the U.S. Institute of Museums and Library Services.  I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity these entities have afforded me.


Friday was my LONGEST day of the conference, and that’s saying a LOT considering my Wednesday schedule with a 4AM wake-up call.. Since so much happened this day, I am posting this in two parts. This post will feature events directly from the AASL scheduled conference at the Convention Center.


Decisions, decisions

I had wanted to attend the Best Apps session, which is a spin off committee from the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning led by BWTL committee member Melissa Jacobs-Israel. When I arrived, wow, the room was filled to capacity with standing room only. The good news is it was video-recorded to be added to AASL’s eCollab portal, so as a member I can catch it after conference. Once I discovered this (yeah, it was published everywhere in the printed guide, which I threw away after tearing out my map of Hartford) I intentionally skipped those sessions, which changed my mind about many sessions in my schedule APP. Note to self: pay closer attention to symbols on guides, in apps, and on signs posted. The little asterisk on my phone and iPad app meant they were recorded for later. I never returned to the Marriott Ballroom D since everything there was recorded in some form or fashion for later consumption.


Snapped a photo of the sign outside the room to REMIND me they were going on AASL’s eCollab!

A Change of Plans for the Planner

I turned to the Author sessions, as many as I could squeeze in, which were not recorded. SCORE! It was a good move. For many who wonder why they should pay their AASL membership, eCollab is definitely a worthwhile reason!! I revised my schedule, and chose instead to attend the session “Authors who Skype.” It was awesome! I tweeted out thoughts from these sessions, and I encourage you to checkout my twitter feed, but I must beg forgiveness over spelling and such–i cannot fix it once it goes. <blush>  NerdProbz!! I went to the session featuring Authors who Skype. Here is their presentation. I also attended the author session “Presenting Social Issues in Teen Literature” featuring Patricia McCormick, Eliot Schefer, Cheryl Karp Ward, and David Levithan.  (I actually went to the exhibit hall to get a free signed book from Levithan for my school!)


Shusterman and Rocco–what a pair!

To reserve my seat in the suck-up row, I arrived at 2:45ish. Shortly after, SLJ’s Rocco Staino joined me there.

After a quick lunch at Panera with Diana and Anne, I returned to the Learning Commons for a catch-up session with my Minneapolis friends Sally Mays and Dawn Nelson. At 2:45 I headed over to the last author session of the day slated to begin at 3:15, which was my absolute favorite. It was titled “Boys Reading: A Focus on Fantasy.” Sitting in the front row as close as I could get (yes, the suck-up row) I sat right beside SLJ editor Rocco Staino. Rocco was the conference “author” organizer, and we had a nice chat catching up while waiting. He assured my I’m on the SLJ Summit invited list permanently, and I promised I am coming to the one in the fall of 2014. I wanted to be in this session JUST to hear Neal Shusterman. This room rapidly filled to no more room even on the floor. The entire session was run by the authors themselves, and they were as follows: Moderator, Jonathan Auxier, and panelists Jon Scieszka, Tony Abbott, Neal Shusterman, William Alexander, and Adam Gidowitz.  Glad I went to the restroom before this session, as (sorry, I know this is crude, but it’s true) I would have wet my pants from laughing so hard during the Q&A led primarily by Auxier. Neal Shusterman was actually a few minutes LATE, but no worries, they went over a few minutes, and really, I think we all would have stayed another forty-five minutes to an hour. I tried to use Twitter for my note-taking (#FAIL) but you can look for the dates of my attendance at conference (November 13-17) to see what I posted. If you have not read SLJ’s recap, definitely go read it. My description is not as nice as theirs–it was like listening to six seventh-grader twelve year-olds talking about “rainbow farting unicorns.” Apparently boys never grow up. But it was a great session none-the-less!   

Fantastic end to the formal Friday scheduled AASL Conference!


Google Pres from Authors Who Skype

Highlight of the Day / Lowlight of the Day

  • Highlight of day: Boys Read session!!
  • Lowlight of the day: disappointed that i didn’t realize I had eCollab sessions in my planner! AT least I was able to quickly adjust my plans for the sessions I would attend.   

Picture Attributions:
All pictures in this post are from my own picture feed in Flickr.


Special Thanks:

I am appending to this post a special thanks to the South Carolina State Library  and Kathy Sheppard, who tuned me in to and accepted my application for a funding source for travel and attendance at this conference, the American Association of School Librarians 16th Annual Conference and Exhibition.  My funding is directly attributed to the Library Services and Technical Services Act and the U.S. Institute of Museums and Library Services.  I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity these entities have afforded me.


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