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Quick note on Book not to Miss

  • Posted on January 24, 2014 at 9:03 AM

As I am waiting for my plane to ALA Midwinter, I realized I had not shared one of those special titles that should be in all upper elementary and middle school collections. Author John P. Stanley released Mickey Price Journey to Oblivion this September. The publisher is Tanglewood. I noticed that many reviewers miss titles from Tanglewood and this one is an excellent science fiction  title that realistically shares a space Cover of Mickey Pricemission that COULD have happened in history.

While reading this title, I was reminded of the Princess Bride and the first time I saw it as a movie. A grandfather is sitting and reading a story to his cranky grandson. He has to sell this book because the grandson is rather skeptical. In Mickey Price Journey to Oblivion we have the point of view of a father sharing a “true” story of his past with his equally skeptical children. The story alternates between a scientific fantasy tale of children who saved the space program with their fantastical journey to the moon, and the father’s discussion with his children years later. Some reviewers thought it was confusing, but this is an excellent way to introduce point of view. I’d love to see it made into a movie.

The space exploration aspects from the early days of travel are well-written. Students at my STEM school love the title because it opens dreams to them of possible futures. It is an exciting story that manages to weave some true facts of space exploration and may trigger historical research. Making the journey to the moon and astronauts traveling in space exciting is a worthy endeavor. I had to purchase three copies to satisfy the demand. Imagine what will happen when just one teacher reads it aloud!

The characters reminded me of those in The Mysterious Benedict Society, but were more realistically depicted. Orphans, geniuses, students with unusual abilities and learning styles being celebrated and learning how to work together. Every gifted and talented teacher should add this to their class collection, also.

Here is the publisher’s description:

The moon is under threat of a nuclear meltdown due to a space station malfunction. Complicating things is the presence of pleurinium, a magnetic material that makes humans instantly, seriously ill – well, all humans who are 14 years old and up.

Mickey Price is an orphan in Orlando; Trace Daniels is a go-kart champion in Nevada; Jonah Jones is a budding scientist in Illinois. They don’t know each other, but they are all being watched and studied by men in white shirts, thin black ties, and distinctive gold-colored sunglasses. The three kids are invited to a NASA camp, but this camp isn’t for summer fun. It’s a training camp for a mission full of dangers that will test each of them to the maximum, but it’s also an adventure full of thrills, fun, and some unexpected companions, not all of whom are human.

Seeking test banks of Information Literacy & library focused question

  • Posted on January 11, 2014 at 4:37 PM

While assisting teachers with instructional design and putting together my pacing guides for this semester, I realized that I spend far too much time reinventing the wheel. There are many school librarians out there who have developed test banks of questions for use with programs like Examview, Smartboards, Promethean boards, CPS clickers, Promethean clickers, etc. Where are these and why are they so difficult to find?

If the nation has a “common core” of state standards, there should be some consistency in the items we assess. Rather than just waiting around anxiously for the PARCC assessment, we should be actively defining and pinpointing the most important areas. Why should it only be businesses that generate test questions? I’m currently waiting for the ability to input reading textbook questions into our teacher’s libraries. Why should I have to wait to assess this using a narrow focus of text?

Librarians can help teachers by creating banks of questions to integrate into basic information literacy instruction. I’m not advocating for any more paper tests, but I am looking for quick questions that other librarians use to do on-the-fly or formative assessment. If I want to be sure students know the difference between primary and secondary sources, wouldn’t five well-developed questions be helpful?

The Library of Congress Summer Institutes have been announced so I spent time today writing my application and minimizing my answers to 500 characters. I’d like to know if anyone has already developed a tool like this to make my instruction easier. I can go to PrometheanPlanet.org to download flipcharts created by teachers and librarians, ¬†but they aren’t specific enough to directly correlate with what I teach in the library. The TRAILS test is essentially a test bank of questions that can be used, but the level of assessment is higher than my beginning learners are prepared. I need something easier, broader, and for younger learners. Any ideas?