Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Favorite Book

We're starting the My Favorite Book project at the MHS library. We're asking all and any students to take our survey about what they're favorite book is and why. Everyday students ask the question: "What should I read?" Sometimes we match them with the perfect book, sometimes we don't. Now you have the opportunity to help others find that perfect book! Take a moment to complete survey, because the only thing more fun than reading what you love is sharing it with others! Take the survey here.

I'll get the ball rolling for you. Here is my favorite book.

My Favorite Book is A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. As a teenage, I always dreamed about traveling to far away places. At the time, I'd never traveled much further than the borders of Pennsylvania. An English teacher, Mrs. Rencil, suggested that if I was really interested in travel I shoud read this book. It depicts Hemingway's time in Paris in the 1920's. I loved it.

From that moment on, I knew I would one day travel to Europe. During my junior year of College I finally made that dream come true; I studied in Nancy, France and over a weekend traveled to Paris. Although 70 years had passed, many of the places that Hemingway wrote of were still there. I traced his steps, sat in bars where he wrote, and bought a copy of the book from his favorite book store, Shakerpeare and Co. I've returned four times since, and this spring I'll return again.

This book made me a traveler. And over the past ten years, I've taken hundreds of students with me. So if you love travel, and can't afford to do it right now, read this book. It's the next best thing.

Books that are like this one: To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway; Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt both books have amazing depictions of their settings. Even though the settings can be brutal, they somehow make you want to go there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell is Super Smart
Gladwell's latest New Yorker article

And a link to all of them...

Whenever I see anything by Malcolm Gladwell, I read it. He is simply one of our most brilliant nonfiction writers right now and perhaps ever. MHS library has Blink, Tipping Point, and Outliers, all fantastic reads if you are interested in why the world is the way it is. All three focus on complicated concepts like decision making, success, and group dynamics.

I especially love Outliers-- a study of what makes people successful. Gladwell's theory is that those who are successful all have hidden advantages that, when combined with hard work, intellect, and/or natural ability, create success. For me the most important revelation is that we all need help on our way to success. Having one advocate in you life can be the difference between success and failure, which of course is why our job as educators is so important.

If you'd like to leave a comment think about this question: What makes a good teacher? And if we know this, how can assure that every classroom has one? Finally, do we believe that the US is willing to put forth the money and time needed to make this possible?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Career Cruising

All 9th, 1oth and 11th grade English classes are currently cycling through the Delaware CareerCruising program over the next few weeks. The link is This program allows every student in these grades to explore career and college options through a state the art web based system. It can be accessed at home 24 hours a day or during school hours.

Students are required to meet certain criteria such as picking three college choices, three college majors, three careers, constructing a resume and creating a plan to acheive short term and long term goals. I encourage all students to log in to your Student Success Plan (SSP) and continue to update your information monthly throughout the school year. Success doesn't just happen; it takes planning and hard work, and your SSP is a big part of this process.

After your two days with Mr. Snyder, you'll have all of the information you need to log in and continue to plan toward your goals using your SSP. For username and password information, see me, Mr. Snyder, or your school counselor.

Finally, parents/guardians need to review these accounts in order to certify that they know what they're student's goals are. They have their own login, so parents need to contact me, Mr. Snyder, or they're child's school counselor for that username and password. The library phone number is 302-422-1616 and I'm available 7:30-3:00 daily. Leave a message if we don't pick up, and we'll get back to you with the log in info within 24 hours. You can also email me at and I'll respond within a few hours.

College should be part of every student's plans, and the SSP can be a powerful tool to help all students get there.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What I'm reading right now...

Turning the Page
Students live in a Digital World. Are schools ready to join them?
By Tim Walker

Are we ready to finally embrace technology in education? I'm not sure. Even though we do have more technology than we did a decade ago, I'm not sure we use it any differently. How many of us use google tech, twitter (The state just unblocked it), and other web 2.0 tools in our teaching? I've just started, and here's what I've learned: It takes time, and this is the one commodity we all seem to be short on.

If you think you have the time, check out the web 2.0 links on my website. Pick a technology and try it out.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nicholas Sparks New Book

When bestselling author Sparks (The Notebook; Message in a Bottle; etc.) receives a brochure offering a three-week trip around the world, it's not hard for him to persuade Micah, his older brother, to join him in touring Guatemala's Mayan ruins, Peru's Incan temples, Easter Island, the killing fields in Cambodia, the Taj Mahal and Ethiopian rock cathedrals. His account of the trip is refreshingly honest and perceptive. At each stop, the brothers, both deeply committed to their families, cover the crucial moments in a life full of familial love and tragedy: Nick's role as the middle child always feeling left out; his marriage in 1989; the loss of Nick and Micah's mother two months later after a horseback riding accident; the death of Nick's first baby and the physical problems of his second son; the death of their father in a car accident; and the passing of their younger sister from a brain tumor. As the brothers travel together through these mythical sites and share candid thoughts, they find themselves stunned by fate's turns, realizing that a peaceful moment may be shattered at any time. Weaving in vignettes of tenderness and loss with travelogue-like observations, Sparks's account shows how he and his brother both evolved on this voyage. "Somehow there was a chance we could help each other, and in that way, I began to think of the trip less as a journey around the world than a journey to rediscover who I was and how I'? developed the way I did."

Accelerated Reader

ATOS Reading Level: 6.0
Point Value: 16.0
Interest Level: UG
Quiz: 84531EN

This is my suggestion for the day. I just finished it and I really enjoyed it. Lots of sad parts, but overall a happy uplifting message. It is on the new books shelf on the circulation desk for as long as it lasts!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Open House

Thanks to all of those who came to open house. I really enjoyed meeting the parents tonight. Be sure to check out the library website. I've added a ton of new information about the college search, MLA, web 2.0, and staff book sugestions. Keep checking it regularly for more information.

Thanks for checking us out, and remember to keep on reading!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Featured Author: Anna Godberson

The Luxe Series by Anna Godberson

What's the Luxe all about?
According to Wikipedia: It follows the lives of Manhattan's Upper Class in 1899. The story is similar to the Gossip Girl series, featuring beautiful socialites and various romantic encounters. The introduction centers around two sisters, one of whom is said to have died after being thrown from her friend's carriage into the Hudson. Elizabeth Holland's death is still shady, as no body was recovered and only one person witnessed her death. Rumors fly about her untimely death, the day just before her marriage to Henry Schoonmaker, a rich not to mention handsome bachelor, followed closely by all the debutantes in town.
Splendor will be released on October 31, 2009. MHS Library will have multiple copies Nov. 1st.

Check out the Website for everything Luxe!
Also, post your comments about this series. Use the comment section attached to this post.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Books have Arrived!

Thanks to a combination of library and district office funds, our library is adding over 500 new books to the library over the next two weeks. The bulk of these texts are non-fiction books in the areas of test prep, environmental sciences, politics, and computer technology. Stop by the library over the next few weeks and ask Mr. Snyder or Mrs. Marcolini about these exciting new texts.

As we add new books, I'll post suggestions as well as a full list as soon as we catalogue them. Also, don't forget to check out the library's new website . We have the results of the teacher reading survey, so you can see what MHS staff are reading these days. The most popular books were Dan Brown's the Lost Symbol and The Shack by William Young. Both are available in our library. Reserve your copy today.

Check out the website of the week. This site is a free collection of Internet resources for nearly any topic. Great for research or building general knowledge.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What's new in Libraryland.

Take a look around the stack next time you stop by the library. There a few new guideposts to help you find books. We have marked all Top 100 books with special Top 100 logos to make them easier to find, and we have placed paper pumpkins next to all of our scary authors. Find a pumpkin, and you find a spine tingling scarefest.

In addition, we'll start our weekly book podcasts in November. We're waiting for the first video cameras to arrive, and as soon as they do, we'll start our broadcasts.

Finally, I had an opportunity to work with Mr. Buford's third block today and I want to give them a quick shout out! Great job! They were a very attentive audience for a long Big 6 presentation.

Don't forget to check out my suggestions below, and as always, keep reading!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day one

This blog is under construction right now. Come back soon to see pictures and videos, and read stories about the exciting world of a high school library. While you're waiting may I suggest any one of these great books.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman --Stack Location: F GAI

Hear this tragic tale: a sleeping family, a talented murderer, and an adventurous toddler—orphaned, but not assassinated. Small and alone, by accident and luck he escapes the scene of the crime and climbs a grassy hill to safety. At the top of the hill the boy finds a fence, and on the other side, a dark, quiet place.

by Scott Westerfeld --Stack Location: F WES

Playing on every teen’s passionate desire to look as good as everybody else, Scott Westerfeld (Midnighters) projects a future world in which a compulsory operation at sixteen wipes out physical differences and makes everyone pretty by conforming to an ideal standard of beauty. The "New Pretties" are then free to play and party, while the younger "Uglies" look on enviously and spend the time before their own transformations in plotting mischievous tricks against their elders. Tally Youngblood is one of the most daring of the Uglies, and her imaginative tricks have gotten her in trouble with the menacing department of Special Circumstances. She has yearned to be pretty, but since her best friend Shay ran away to the rumored rebel settlement of recalcitrant Uglies called The Smoke, Tally has been troubled. The authorities give her an impossible choice: either she follows Shay’s cryptic directions to The Smoke with the purpose of betraying the rebels, or she will never be allowed to become pretty. Hoping to rescue Shay, Tally sets off on the dangerous journey as a spy. But after finally reaching The Smoke she has a change of heart when her new lover David reveals to her the sinister secret behind becoming pretty. The fast-moving story is enlivened by many action sequences in the style of videogames, using intriguing inventions like hoverboards that use the rider’s skateboard skills to skim through the air, and bungee jackets that make wild downward plunges survivable -- and fun. Behind all the commotion is the disturbing vision of our own society -- the Rusties -- visible only in rusting ruins after a virus destroyed all petroleum. Teens will be entranced, and the cliffhanger ending will leave them gasping for the sequel. (Ages 12 and up) --Patty Campbell

Forged By Fire by Sharon Draper --Stack Location: F DRA
See full size image
When Gerald was a child he was fascinated by fire. But fire is dangerous and powerful, and tragedy strikes. His substance-addicted mother is taken from him. Then he loses the loving generosity of a favorite aunt. A brutal stepfather with a flaming temper and an evil secret makes his life miserable. The one bright light in Gerald's life is his little half sister, Angel, whom he struggles to protect from her father, Jordan Sparks, who abuses her, and from their mother, whose irresponsible behavior forces Gerald to work hard to keep the family together.

As a teenager, Gerald finds success as a member of the Hazelwood Tigers basketball team, while Angel develops her talents as a dancer. Trouble still haunts them, however, and Gerald learns, painfully, that young friends can die and old enemies must be faced. In the end he must stand up to his stepfather alone in a blazing confrontation.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson --Stack Location: F AND

Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute...

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins --Stack Location: F COL
Cover image for Catching fire
At the end of The Hunger Games (2008), breathless readers were left in the lurch with any number of questions. Will Katniss lead an uprising against the Capitol? Does she fancy Peeta or Gale? Both? Neither? And perhaps most importantly, how in the world is Collins going to live up to the (well-deserved) hype? Without divulging too much, don’t sweat it. The book opens with Katniss and Peeta reluctantly embarking on their victory tour through the 12 oppressed districts of Panem, where they witness more than a few surprising things. And right when it seems as if the plot might be going into a holding pattern between the first and third acts of the trilogy, a blindsiding development hurtles the story along and matches, if not exceeds, the unfiltered adrenaline rush of the first book.