March 16, 2012

iPad App Ratings

*Please note:  To protect the privacy of my student in this article, he will be called Marcus..  

Product Description from the App Store - Stardom: The A-List
Cost:  Free

- From getting off the bus as a nobody to accepting an award as an international - superstar, get rich and famous by starring in movies and TV shows and winning over fans.
- Work on-set to earn a 5-star performance, rave reviews, and more fans
- Invite friends to exclusive parties, have them co-star in your projects, or check the Top 100 to see who’s more famous.
Stardom:  The A-List

My student *Marcus enjoys the app called, "Stardom:  The A-List."  This app cleverly takes the user through a series of similations describing what is it like to be a popular entertainer.   The player can experience movie/television show auditions, learn how to connect to the movers and shakers in the industry and develop a image or brand that will attract fans.  

Marcus Tablet and iPod
Marcus enjoys this app because it gives him just a little taste of what is would be like to work in the entertainment business.   Why is this app so appealing to Marcus?  Well, he is a member of the Phillips School Choir, Glee Club and is an aspiring singer/actor.   He's one of many favorite performers at the all school assemblies.  I call him, 'Lil Michael Jackson'  because of the quality and range of his voice.   In addition, Marcus is one of my library regulars who visits before/after school and during the lunch periods.   If he's not checking out the library iPad to access Stardom, then he's playing the game on his personal tablet and iPod.

While this app may not be on the top of the list for educators, this is an app that is valued by my student.  For this reason, Stardom is a app that appears on my library iPads.

iPad App Rating on a scale of 1 to 5:  Five Phillips Paw Prints

March 9, 2012

Personal Learning Networks - Part I

I love Personal Learning Networks.

PLNs give me the opportunity to connect with other like minded learners at the local, state, national and international level.  One type of PLN I really enjoy are librarian blogs.  It's facinating to hear the stories of fellow librarians.  Some of them are funny, some are cautionary, some describe triumph and some reflect on defeat.  

This type of network provides me with the needed connections to school librarians who share the same drive and advocacy that I have.  These connections are endless.  Overall,  PLNs provide individuals with learning and access to leaders and experts around the world.  These connections bring together communities, resources and information impossible to access solely from within school walls.  

I strongly suggest if you have not developed your own personal PLN, start by reading Lisa Nielsen's tips for developing a PLN.   Nielsen blogs at   The Innovative Educator.

Here are some of my favorite librarian blogs:

Have a great weekend!

March 8, 2012

2012 Street Lit Book Award Medal Winners

2012 Street Lit Book Award Medal Winners!!!

(2011 publications)

The Street Lit Book Award Medal (SLBAM) is conferred by a group of librarians as a means to aid educators on the trends occurring in the literary genre, Street Literature. The SLBAM committee is proud to announce the award winners for 2011 publications. The following winners are titles based on popularity of books as read by the public in school, academic, and public library settings. Please visit, for a listing of past year winners.


SLBAM Feedback:
-- “This is a great book about one of few positive rappers that on the scene.”
-- "Common points out all the highs and lows of the music industry."
-- "This book is going to help people."

1) Power & Beauty: A Love Story of Life on the Streets by "Tip" T.I. Harris;
2) Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption ... by Ice-T; BMF:
3) The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Family Mafia -by Mara Shaloup


SLBAM Feedback:
-- "Can't keep this book on the shelf."
-- "A raw tale that will send the reader on a roller coaster ride."  
-- "People just can't get enough of K'wan; readers believe he is telling their stories."

1) Murderville by Ashley & JaQuavis Coleman;
2) Lifestyles of the Rich & Shameless, by Kiki Swinson & Noire


SLBAM Feedback:
-- "Simone has captured the drama and humor today's teen."
-- "My young patrons are crazy about Ni Ni Simone."
-- "Young readers have made it clear that NiNi Simone where it’s at."

1) So So Hood by L. Divine;
2) Priceless Inspiration by Antonia "Toya" Carter 

Special Category: Emerging Classic, YUMMY BY G. NERI

SLBAM Feedback:
-- "An interesting graphic novel presentation of a Chicago youth tragedy."
-- "I am glad G. Neri's Yummy has been cited for a special award." 
-- "I was very successful using this book with my Teen Book Club!"

Special Category: Author(s) of the Year:


The SLBAM Committee honors NYT Bestselling author duo, Ashley and JaQuavis Coleman, for their back-to-back publications during 2011, Murderville and Murder Mamas. Both titles were hugely popular amongst Street Lit readers in libraries and on social media. The Colemans are also noted for their leadership in promoting Street Lit as a viable literary genre. An Ashley & JaQuavis release is always a highly anticipated event. We look forward to more exciting work from them!


2012 SLBAM Committee Members:

K.C. Boyd is the Library Media Specialist at the acclaimed Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, IL. Boyd is a sought-out lecturer on Street Lit, and she blogs about Young Adult and Adult Street Lit at

Marvin DeBose is an Adult/Teen Librarian in the Free Library of Philadelphia system. He manages the largest Street Lit library collection in Philadelphia, PA, and also runs a Teen Street Lit Book Club where they discuss their readings at:

Connie Farley is  Reference Technician for St. Louis (MO) Public Library where she runs an Urban Lit Discussion Group that boasts a diverse membership coming from several African and Caribbean nations.

D.L. Grant, Jr., is an Assistant Branch Manager with the San Antonio Public Library System. Grant is also studying for his doctorate's degree in library and information science. 

Patrice Grimball-Smith is a Librarian Assistant in Young Adult Services for the Charleston County Public Library System in Charleston, South Carolina.  She is also the Outreach Coordinator for Readers in Motion Bookclub,

Takiyah Jemison is currently Head of the Cataloging Department at Fayetteville State University. She has a B.A in History and she received her Master in Library Science from North Carolina Central University. She is an avid reader of different genres such as psychological thrillers, urban literature, and true crimes.

Vanessa Irvin Morris is the convener of the Street Lit Book Award Medal (SLBAM) Committee. She is the author of the Street Literature blog at, and the award-winning publication, The Readers Advisory Guide to Street Literature. Vanessa teaches library and information science at a private research university in Northeast USA.

The SLBAM committee members conducted three nomination rounds where they researched and discussed all nominated titles. This year, the committee inaugurated a special category, "Emerging Classic", to recognize a Street Lit -plotted or -themed book that was published before the year of nomination but continues to be in popular demand by the reading public. Another special category, "Author(s) of the Year", was established to recognize an author(s) whose publications were particularly well-received by the reading public during the nomination year. Books eligible for nomination were published between January 1, 2011 - December 31, 2011. 

For more information about the Street Lit Book Award Medal (SLBAM) or if you are interested in participating on the SLBAM committee, email

March 6, 2012

Which One Should I Select?

At the beginning of the school year, two iPads finally arrived in my library.  These iPads were purchased through a Double Matching Grant I had won late last school year.  I had to delay the delivery due to the summer intersession and I didn't have a secure place in the library to store them.   I was really excited to try out the applications (apps), but I learned later that there are so many!  I was faced with the tough question, "Which iPad apps would be most beneficial for my students?" 
I first visited the iPads in CPS Blog which had a ton of information that was quite useful.  One of my favorite links on the website is, One Place for Special Needs.  This website is dedicated to provide helpful resources and support for the parents of special needs kids.   The website is run by Dawn Villarreal a mother of two special needs children.   The section on iPad apps is really helpful because Villarreal has researched these apps, provided a short synopsis of them and has broken them down by skill set.  The viewer can use her links on the website that redirect to the app store where screen shots can be viewed for further reading.  What's really cool about this site is that all of the apps that appear on the website have been researched and are alphabetized by disability and subject.  When you have an opportunity, just visit her website and see for yourself.

Freshman Lunch Period
When the students learned that iPads were coming to the library, they were excited.  One of the first questions that was asked by the students was, "Are you going to let us play Angry Birds?"  I had to stop and think about the iPad integration from a teenager's point of view.  Then I had to think about this for a longer period of time.   The educator in me wanted the kids to use the devices to complete homework and research.  Would it be problematic for kids to play games on the iPads?   Chicago Public Library uses gaming as a part of it's draw for the YOUMedia Center.  There are CPS librarians that are using X-Box Kinect to promote greater learning and physical fitness.  Finally, librarians have always had board games in their libraries.

Two Seniors Playing Chess
I finally came to the decision.  I would allow a 'healthy' mix of iPad research and gaming.  Now wait, before some of you send me hateful emails, please keep the following in mind.  High school students have a :20 minute lunch.  During this time they can read, study, research, enjoy magazines or socialize freely.   Most importantly, it's a time when they can relax and take a break.   I loaded a couple of popular games like Angry Birds on the devices.  The understanding that my students and I have is the games are for free time and definitely not during class time.  

Here's some of the cool things I have observed take place since integrating 'gaming' apps:

- A couple of members of the Chess Team use the iPads to practice during lunch periods and after school.
- Students enjoy testing their vocabulary by playing Scrabble by themselves or with a partner.
Senior Girl Playing Scrabble
- The video and picture taking has increased heavily.  Students enjoy using some of the Art apps such as Sketch Me to express their creative side.
- Kids that normally would not socialize with each other now do.  It's interesting to see kids that are from different social circles sharing, conversing and demonstrating how to use the iPad.
- Students that are introverted/shy are more social among their peer group.

Just Having Fun
Now please keep in mind, I'm still in the early stages of allowing this type of gaming to take place in the library.  I will revisit this decision at the end of the school year.  Through this ongoing process, I have learned that making the decision to purchase an iPad app is challenging.  It takes allot research, time and patience.   I'm just determined to identify the best apps that my students and teachers can use. 

Bye for now!

March 2, 2012

Boys and Books

*Please note:  To protect the privacy of my student in this article, he will be called Lawrence.  
Advertising for the Anime Club
As long as I have served as a school librarian, there has always been that debate about boys and books. How do we get them to read?  Currently two genres that are extremely hot at my school are Anime/Manga Novels and Street Lit.  While some of my peers in education frown on the use of these books, I don't and nor do I care.   My students who were once non-readers are reading now and for this I am happy.

Some of the favorite Anime/Manga Novel titles are Bleach, Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Cirque-du-Freak and Dragon Ball-Z.   In addition to these titles, the male students enjoy the, "How to Draw Manga" types of books.    One of my regulars *Lawrence, is now recruiting students to join the new Anime Club at Phillips.  The picture above describes his clever way of advertising the club on the back of his bookbag.
Which book am I going to read over the three day weekend???
Lately more male students have been checking out books from the Street Lit. genre.  New books by Tracey Brown, Paul Volponi, Tu-Shonda Whitaker and K'Wan have been checked out heavily.  What I find very interesting is that more male students are enjoying books written by the Street Lit. great, Donald Goines.  The fast paced and realistic tales are attractive reads for this group of readers.   Do they come back for more?  Yes they do!

Have a great weekend!

March 1, 2012

Security and Excitement

Several days after learning that I had won the VITAL grant, I began to think about the security of the equipment.  I have a back office that locks in the LMC but I still wanted the extra security in place. After speaking with my Principal, Technology Coordinator and School Engineer, the decision was made to install a metal door that would slide over the office door (see the picture).   Thank you Mr. Sota, Master of the Drill!!!

I'm now in the process of barcoding all of the devices.  This will help me greatly to maintain some order, accountability and my sanity when circulating.  I also see barcoding as a great way to track the usage of each device.  My hope is that this data can be included in my monthly report for my administration.

As you can see, two of my junior students are excited about the arrival of the NOOKs.  Neither have ever used this device and they are ready to get started after the first download.  Currently I have 15 students that will be attending the upcoming information meeting about the NOOK Street Literature Club at Phillips.

Stay Tuned!