Wednesday, March 29, 2017



This area will become the Cyber Lab for students with blended schedules.
Our high school runs a 2-year S.T.E.M. program. Students apply in their sophomore year, and if they are accepted, participate in seminars throughout their junior year. During their senior year, they are enrolled in an actual S.T.E.M. class. As part of their class, they are responsible for the planning and implementing of a project that benefits some aspect of the school district.
This is the first year that such a project was implemented. I applied last year to be the beneficiary of their program, and they selected my application in part because the library is a space that is used by the entire school.
The plan for the library is as follows...
1) A space for the Cyber Lab students. The library is home to students who are enrolled part-time in cyber courses. They go to some of their classes, and they come to the library for classes that they take online.
This area will eventually be a makerspace.
2) A more contained instructional space. Now that our students each have a Chromebook, the need for desktops has decreased. My instructional space is being reduced. I can still accommodate the same number of students, but less space is needed since they no longer need desktops. The extra are will be changed to...
3) Collaborative Space: This are will have a project, mobile white board, and tables covered with a white-board surface so that dry erase markers can be used.
4) A Makerspace: This area use to house the cyber students and a few desktops. For now, it will have approximately 6 desktops that will be better quality and more extensive applications such as C.A.D. and other advanced programs. Eventually, I would like to make this are more like the makerspaces I see in other libraries.
5) An updated reading area: My cozy reading spaces will receive an upgrade. Furniture will be rearranged and new furniture, plants, lamps, and area rugs will be donated by local retailers.
The planning phase is finally over, and the maintenance crew has been in the library all week. I will post "after" photos as soon as everything is finished!

Posted by: Nicky

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Title: Audacity
Author: Melanie Crowder

Genre: Historical Fiction, Novels Written in Verse

Series: Stand Alone

Book Summary:(via Goodreads) A gorgeously told novel in verse written with intimacy and power, Audacity is inspired by the real-life story of Clara Lemlich, a spirited young woman who emigrated from Russia to New York at the turn of the twentieth century and fought tenaciously for equal rights. Bucking the norms of both her traditional Jewish family and societal conventions, Clara refuses to accept substandard working conditions in the factories on Manhattan's Lower East Side. For years, Clara devotes herself to the labor fight, speaking up for those who suffer in silence. In time, Clara convinces the women in the factories to strike, organize, and unionize, culminating in the famous Uprising of the 20,000. 
Powerful, breathtaking, and inspiring, Audacity is the story of a remarkable young woman, whose passion and selfless devotion to her cause changed the world.

Characters: Clara, Mama, Papa, Marcus, Nathan, Benjamin, Pauline, Joe

What I Loved: I loved loved LOVED this book. I'm not, generally, a fan of fiction written in verse, but this was executed perfectly. The writing was eloquent without straining the flow of the story. It truly felt as though you were inside Clara's thoughts. I have been on an historical fiction kick lately, having loved The Salt of the Sea and Orphan Train. This book was also on the book list for our academic reading team, and a lot of my students (both girls and boys) raved about this one.
It is also obvious that Melanie Crowder thoroughly researched her subject matter, the time period, and Clara Lemlich's life. The text is so rich that, when Clara is describing walking the street of New York, I could hear, smell, and see the city around her.
I also picked up this book because, having recently read A Handmaid's Tale and How to be a Woman for a feminist book club that Janine and I both belong to, I have been looking for something about women in American history. I think if a historical fiction novel is well-written, it makes the reader want to read more about it's time period, it's characters, and it's true story. Audacity certainly accomplished that.

What I could have done without: There isn't much I can find to be critical of in this novel. I didn't give it five stars on Goodreads because I only give 5 Goodreads stars to books that I consider "great literature"--books that affect me profoundly and which will resonate with me. Still, as young adult literature, I consider this great writing. The thing that frustrated me, and I think this is a result of the verse writing, is that I didn't feel as though I grew to know the other characters very well. Clara's family, Joe, Pauline--they all seemed rather two-dimensional.

Final Grade: A-

Review by Nicky