Congratulations to Matt Carbone, Cluster 8-5, for winning the Banned Books Week drawing!
And thank you to all the students who entered and promoted intellectual freedom and our right to read by participating.
Katie St. Peters
I am super excited that SYNC is coming back again this summer. SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens. Starting May 5th 2016, SYNC will give away two complete audiobook downloads a week - pairs of high interest titles, based on weekly themes. Sign up for email or text alerts and be first to know when new titles are available to download at www.audiobooksync.com.
Even though I have been listening to audiobooks all year through Axis 360 here at Pollard and Overdrive through the public library, one benefit of SYNC is that the books are not on loan. Once you download the book, it stays available on your device until you delete it. You just need to remember to download the books weekly. That's where the text alerts come in handy!
We have had great eBook circulation this year, particularly with Axis 360. However, during MCAS students are not allowed to bring iPads or other eReaders into the testing room. I have noticed a huge pick up in physical book checkouts this week as 7th graders started their first MCAS testing sessions. I would estimate that I checked out over fifty books for 7th graders on Monday, plus a few more 8th graders. And the trend continued the rest of the week. Next week the 8th graders will have their first testing sessions. I will be very interested to look at our March and April eBook circulation statistics to see if there is a noticeable drop. Check back here in mid-May to find out!
I have been so impressed with the amazing art I have seen at Pollard so far this year. Check out a few pictures below. The furniture pieces and murals have been a neat addition this year. Congrats to our art students and teachers.
Our brackets are nearly complete. There is one more week of voting in our March Madness with Books. We started by developing brackets with our sixteen most circulated fiction books for the last twelve months. Then, like the NCAA basketball brackets we seeded the #1 book against the #16 book, #2 against #15, and so on. Each week the students have voted and the winners have advanced. Surprisingly, our #16 seed, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, has made it to the championship round. It is pitted against The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, our #15 seed and 2015 champion. I am not surprised by The Hunger Game's appearance in the championship round. It is the most universally known of the top sixteen books. Unbroken is less well known, but has been heavily supported by a group of boys who are big fans. Students can vote as often as they like so it will be interesting to see who wins.
I know the school year is starting to wind down, not only because we just started the third trimester, but also because I just started research projects with my fourth 8th grade cluster. Mr. Camberis and cluster 8-2 students started their research papers this Monday. This is an iPad cluster and I think the kids are really seeing the benefit of having their own devices. Students can easily download database articles directly to their devices and bookmark resources they find in the web. So cool to see their topic ideas develop.
I just read this CREEPY new book by Kenneth Oppel. Steve has a sick baby brother. A wasp comes to Steve in his dream and promises to fix his the baby. Warning - not for those with fears about being stung! Check out the trailer below.
I recently received an Advance Reader Copy of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys and I can't wait to read it. I am a big fan of her earlier historical fiction novels, especially Between Shades of Gray. Check out this short trailer from Ms. Sepetys that provides some background about the novel.
I am a huge fan of book trailers and this super cool one just popped up in my YouTube feed. It is for the book Proxy by Alex London. The book trailer integrates pages from the book, captions, music and cool cut-out paper figures -- I am sure there is a fancy art term for this that I don't know! I thought this trailer was very unique and since it is a book genre popular at Pollard -- Dystopias, I decided it was a good one to post. My next job is to see if the creator has made any more book trailers of interest.
On September 29th I rolled out Axis 360 to the first group of Pollard students — Mr. Blake’s ELA students in cluster 8-3. On September 30th, I introduced in to the second cluster. Students can browse, check out and download eBooks and Audiobooks from Pollard’s Library using the Axis 360 app. In just two days we downloaded 114 books and became the number 2 user of Axis 360 in Massachusetts.
During October, I introduced Axis 360 to all the seventh grade clusters. As a result, our Axis 360 usage skyrocketed and Pollard is now the number one user of Axis 360 in Massachusetts. We downloaded more than 2.5x as many items as our closest rival. In November, I will continue to focus on making sure 8th graders who aren’t in the iPad clusters know about and can use Axis 360 on their personal devices. Needham High School and High Rock are getting ready to roll out this great platform to their students soon.