Author: The Unquiet Librarian

I'm a librarian who loves learning, critical literacy, stories, learning, dogs, poetry, fabulous shoes, and good lip gloss; I'm also a 2011 Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

Help #WageHope

Mama

Three years ago today, my world changed forever when I learned that my cherished mother, JoAnn Gunter, had stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  I didn’t even really understand what “stage 4” meant—though I would learn the harsh reality of that all too fast—but I was in utter shock that my mom, who was always regarded as a freak of nature for her youthfulness even at the age of 69, could have such a devastating disease.  I could not fathom that MY mother, the one who never drank or smoke, who exercised faithfully, who had none of the risk factors for this evil disease.   Even now, it still seems incomprehensible.  MY mother, the person who always had my back, my best friend, and my eternal source of wisdom even in the most difficult of times.   Within 10 months, mama was gone—nothing could be prepare me for the void her passing would leave.

I have not yet been able to write about the experience of what it is like to walk such a journey with someone you love more than anything, a roller coaster of fighting one of the deadliest cancers you can get.  For now, I will simply say it has taken me to some of the darkest hours of my entire life and that watching such suffering up close profoundly changes you and the way you see life forever.  Grief is still ever-present for me, but the strength of character and grit my mother instilled in me has kept me moving forward even on days I frankly didn’t want to go any further—and I know that is exactly what she would have done had our roles been reversed.  I try to keep my focus on continually learning from the experiences of the last few years and how I can turn those insights into positive action and energy–to do anything else would dishonor the sacrifices my mother made to give me the life I have and the preciousness of life.

wage hope

It seems fitting on this day to share that the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, an organization whose efforts are making difference in the war on pancreatic cancer, is nearing its year-end fundraising goal.   Pancreatic cancer has now surpassed breast cancer to become the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.  I respectfully ask you to consider making a donation of any amount to this organization dedicated to finding methods of earlier diagnosis and more effective treatments for this disease that is one of the deadliest cancers with very low survival rates.  If you would like to make a contribution, please click here.  On behalf of my mother and all those who have been touched by this disease, I thank you for your gracious consideration.

Slideshow: Hooch Learning Studio End of Year Annual Report

2015-16 Media Center Report-1 (2)

I’m very pleased to share with you all my end of year/annual report for the 2015-2016 year here at Chattahoochee High School.  As many of you know, I used Picktochart for my first ever midyear report, but I decided to go with Google Presentations/Slides for this end of year document.   The slideshow features instructional/programming highlights, important data points, and a glimpse of the future of our physical space (including an embedded video!) as well as the vision for our role in the Hooch Learning Community.  I created all my graphics with either Canva or PowerPoint.

Please enjoy the report in slideshow format!

turn the page

Sharing Their Voices with the World: Helping our ESOL Students Self-Publish with Smashwords

The Hooch Learning Studio, in conjunction with Ms. Balogh’s ESOL students, is delighted to announce the publication of Twelve Worlds, One Book.  This book is an anthology of student writing created by Ms. Balogh’s students crafted as part of the work they crafted in Ms. Balogh’s writer’s workshop approach to composition instruction.  The book contains many pieces of writing, including poetry, short stories, essays, memoirs, monologues, plays, a biosketch, and microfiction.

Book cover revised version 3

How did this book project come about?  Earlier this semester as I was working with Ms. Balogh and her students on mini-research assignments, Ms. Balogh told me about the writer’s workshop approach she had implemented this academic year.  I asked her what they were going to do with their finished pieces, and at the time, the students were just keeping them for themselves.  When I suggested we publish their work as a collection of original writing in eBook format, she and the students enthusiastically said yes!  Since I had previously worked on a collaborative eBook project using the Smashwords publishing platform, I decided to use it for this project.  What is Smashwords?

Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks. We make it fast, free and easy for any author or publisher, anywhere in the world, to publish and distribute ebooks to the major retailers.

Students began submitting the completed manuscripts of their works they had composed over the course of this academic year this earlier this month.  The students also chose the book title, decided how the book would be organized, and Hitoshi Akiyama designed the book cover.  My task was to compile the pieces into one master manuscript and then format it according to the Smashwords style guide.  This process took me about three full days to complete.

Yesterday, we debuted the book at our eBook launch party after school and celebrated our students’ success with each other, parents, fellow teachers, and administrators.   Students are already talking about eBook projects for 2016-17!

balogh student authors

Balogh eBook party

smashwords-our book

balogh ebooks on tablets

The class eBook is now available for FREE at Smashwords!  You can download it in several formats:

  • PDF file
  • Mobi (for Kindles or Kindle apps)
  • ePub format (works on multiple devices and platforms including iBooks (iPad, iPhone) and the Overdrive app.

Our class eBook has its very own ISBN number (!!!) and we are waiting approval for premium distribution.  We are so very excited to be able to support Ms. Balogh and her students and to help them have a medium for sharing their voices with the world!  We also plan to integrate the eBook into our school library digital collection.

Here are some reflections on this experience from Ms. Balogh and her students:

Ms. Balogh:

When I saw the book and saw the copyright page, I got tears in my eyes.  My students wrote a book!!  What an amazing experience.  This group of students is one of the best I’ve ever worked with.  I’m so very proud of them.

Vrajna P.

It was amazing to be part of this project. I would love to do it again. I learn so many things from writing and it helped me to improve my English. After launching this book I feel so happy and I feel like that I am something. I feel like I have achieved something.

Sofia R.

Being part of this book  was a amazing experience, and I’m so glad to have this journey in my story, to take with me for the rest of my life.  I can’t wait to tell everyone about this awesome project that me and my class just done.

Hyesun K.

This is first time [for me] to make books; I was the author.  I like to make different genres for us.  When I made the poem or short story, memory, essay it was enjoyable to make it,  and I think my English is better.   It’s really fantastic experience to make a book.  I am really thankful for Ms.B and Ms. Hamilton.  And to make relationships with friends.  In class we enjoyed writing and thinking about it.  I want to do it again next year.  Some of students are leaving ESOL, but they will remember the  experience with Ms.B, Ms. Hamilton and me.  Thanks for giving great experience.

Pessi L.

It was amazing to be part of this project. I really liked publishing my own work and reading other students’ writings. Usually I write essays just for a grade and the teacher is only person who reads them. But this time it was different. It feels like there is a reason to write if someone actually reads it.

As you can see, this project had tremendous personal meaning for our students.  It is my hope that our eBook project will inspire other teachers and students to think about how the media center program here can help them self-publish student work and to expand the possibilities for our media center program in 2016-17!