ALA Midwinter-Where to Find Me and What I’m Looking Forward To

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So, in a few days I’ll be heading to Chicago for the American Library Association’s (ALA) Midwinter Meeting (sidenote to conference coordinators: why can’t the midwinter events be in WARM places?!?)  Although I’m not really looking forward to the cold (at least it won’t be snowing, right?), I am looking forward to connecting with librarian friends, attending some interesting sessions, and, of course, getting my hands on some ARCS of upcoming titles (lucky for me, this is both a professional AND personal benefit).

If you are also going to be in Chicago this weekend, here are some places you might find me:

ERT/Booklist Author Forum-I know graphic novels are super popular and a great way to get kids reading, but I still don’t feel that confident about developing a great graphic novel collection, so I’m looking forward to learning even more about them during this session.

ALA Masters Series-Start a Revolution: Stop Acting Like a Library-While I’m still a firm believer in libraries as places to find books, I also see libraries as community centers, and as such they need to meet their communities’ needs, which include more than just books.  So it will be interesting to hear what other libraries have done/are doing to innovate and provide good services for their patrons.

Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Feedback Session-This is my first Midwinter meeting, so it’s my first opportunity to attend one of these feedback sessions, but I’ve heard in years past that it’s great to hear what teens have to say about books, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Women In Geekdom: How to Reach Out to the Nerds in Your Community-This sounds like a fun exploration of pop culture as well as a way to steal some cool programming ideas from great librarians.  Plus I love the focus on women-there are plenty of female nerds who can see the library as a place for them.

YA Smackdown-Although I don’t work in a public library, I do work with teens, and I think this will be a great opportunity to learn from and share with some great librarians.

ALA Youth Media Awards-So excited to get to go to the YMAs in person instead of watching the webcast this year!

These are just a few of the sessions I’m hoping to attend, in addition to a couple of the Book Buzz Theater events.  I’ll also be spending a fair amount of time in the exhibit hall, checking out what upcoming titles publishers are promoting. Here are a few of the books I’m really hoping to find at the conference:

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Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen-Sarah Dessen is an auto-read for me; her characters are always so interesting and compelling, and this book sounds like it’s going to be as good as the rest.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas-While I would prefer the next installment of the Throne of Glass series, because I NEED TO KNOW what happens, this new series sounds equally intriguing (and swoony).

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway-This book has an interesting concept, and I LOVED the Also Known As books, so I’m excited to read more from Robin Benway.

Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales-Frankly, the concept of this one is a tiny bit creepy to me, but I’ve loved the author’s previous books, so I want to give it a shot.

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller– Trish Doller is SO great.  Plus I love road trip books, and this one has a very interesting twist to it.

Plus my super long shot because from the sounds of Twitter she’s still editing but I really, really, really want it book: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han- I’ve read all of Jenny Han’s books, and enjoyed them all, but To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was, far and away, her best work.  and I need to know what happens next.

Are you going to be at ALA Midwinter?  What are you looking forward to?  What books are you excited to get your hands on?

2014 End of Year Book Survey

Hello 2015.  Another year of reading is in the books, and, although I have been slacking on keeping track of what I read on this blog, I do like reflecting on my reading with this survey created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner (I did this for my 2012 reading, but skipped 2013).  So, my 2014 in reading looked a little like this:

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Number Of Books You Read: 170
Number of Re-Reads: 8
Genre You Read The Most From: this was definitely the year of contemporary realistic fiction for me

 best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

Well, I just spent like 15 minutes just staring at the books I read this year, because it’s almost impossible to make this decision…the books I loved this year all have different elements.  So I’m just going to do a top 3 (and possibly later go back and do a top books of 2014 post…?):

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1. Breakfast Served Anytime, by Sarah Combs

2. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, by Jenny Han

3. The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkowski

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Sadly, I really did not love We Were Liars.  My love for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks knows no bounds, so I was really looking forward to a new E. Lockhart novel, but this one just wasn’t a great read for me.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

I guess I’m most surprised by Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaira.  I’m surprised it’s ended up on so many favorite lists, when I found it to be fairly derivative and uninspired.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

Although I didn’t read them this year, I continue to recommend a trio of YA books I think all people should read:

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

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Best Series Started: I LOVED The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski, and am excited to read the sequel very soon!

Best Sequel: I am a total Elizabeth Eulberg fangirl, and it was so amazing to have a sequel to The Lonely Hearts ClubWe Can Work It Out was great.

Best Series Ender:  While I don’t think it was my favorite of the series, Dreams of Gods & Monsters was an interesting series end.  I will certainly miss Laini Taylor’s gorgeous writing and a lot of the characters in this series.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

I think I have to go with Kasie West.  I read 3 of her books this year, and they were all read-in-one-sitting books for me.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Etiquette & Espionage and the others in the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger.  I never thought steampunk would be for me, but once I got into them I really loved them.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

For me, this is a tie between Free to Fall by Lauren Miller and Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson.  In both of these books, I kept turning the pages because I had to know what happened next.

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Harry Potter series.  Although I like to reread, there are so many new books to read that I often don’t do that much of it, but I generally reread Harry Potter every year.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

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11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Sophronia (and her friends) from the Finishing School series.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

 Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

 Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.  After reading this, I thought (and continue to think) a lot about the ending of the book, what I would choose if I were in that situation, quality of life, etc.  It’s definitely stuck with me.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

ifistayIf I Stay never appealed to me; I didn’t love the premise and thought it would just be really hard to read.  but after Just One Day and Just One Year, I wanted more Gayle Forman in my life, and I had picked it up at a library book sale, so I decided to just dive in.  And, as usual, Gayle didn’t disappoint-I ended up loving it.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

I don’t really keep track of quotes I like, so sadly, I don’t have anything for this one.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2014?

Shortest: Just One Night by Gayle Forman

Longest:  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

All Fall Down by Ally Carter.  While I didn’t love the book, I also didn’t expect the ending to happen the way it did.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Paige and Max from The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  Always (yes, I know part of that becomes romantic.  but whatever, they were friends first).

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I don’t get a lot of peer pressure to read books (I’m usually the one doing the pressuring), but I do read a lot based on book blogs I read, so I guess the best thing I read based on good reviews was the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Ziri from Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (I guess technically he became a crush when I read Days of Blood and Starlight, but I didn’t do this survey last year, so I’m claiming him for this year).

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

 No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

 The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

 To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.  All the tears.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

I haven’t heard a ton of people talking about Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs, but I really, really loved this book.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Me Before You, again.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott (and pretty much all other books where the parents need some sense knocked into them)

Well, there you have it, my year in books.  I am hoping 2015 will be an even better year of reading (in which I finally reach my Goodreads goal), and maybe even one with more blogging, as well.  Happy new year and happy reading to you all.

Reading Retrospective: June

See, I told you I wouldn’t let another 6 months go by without a post.  I was still finishing up my first school year as a librarian in June, but my grad school classes and obligations were done, so reading began to pick up again around this time.  Here’s what I was reading in June:

51. Royally Lost by Angie Stanton-Impulse bought this for my Kindle when it was super cheap.  Not the best choice.  The main character was SO annoying-basically started off as the very definition of an ugly American.  So shallow, desperate for McDonald’s, not wanting to learn the history of anything, etc.  She got slightly better over time, but the best part of the book was the setting-I’ll read about vacations through Europe any day of the week.

52. Prodigy by Marie Lu-Second book in the Legend trilogy. More Day and June.  Despite it being a second book, I didn’t hate it, so I think that says a lot about the trilogy.

53. Champion by Marie Lu-Final book in the Legend trilogy.  I didn’t hate the ending.  I didn’t think it was too far-fetched or unrealistic, and it had a hopeful tone.  I’m having trouble remembering a ton of details now (though I did love the gamification of Antarctica), but definitely a solid trilogy.  I’d definitely recommend it over Divergent and the Maze Runner, maybe even The Hunger Games (only because I liked the third book a lot more).

54. The One by Kiera Cass-Final book in The Selection trilogy.  I know a lot of people don’t like this series, and it’s not without flaws, but I really liked America throughout the series.  Some of her thoughts and actions definitely irritated me, but I liked her less orthodox approach to many of the tasks with which she was faced.  And the romantic aspect ended relatively predictably, but I think that was to be expected.  I probably won’t reread the series, but I definitely liked it.

55. Free to Fall by Lauren Miller-I really liked the premise of the book, but then I thought the plot got more and more outrageous.  Nonetheless, it was enjoyable, if far-fetched.

56. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling-Back in the beginning of June, I had sort of a rough week, so I decided I needed some comfort reading.  Enter Harry Potter.  Still so good, despite repeated rereadings.  Made me long to be a wizard all over again.

57. Just One Night by Gayle Forman-I usually skip these little stories that happen before, after, or in between books in a series, because they’re not essential to the plot and I’d rather read a full-length story.  But I am SO GLAD Gayle Forman wrote this add-on to Just One Day/Just One Year.  It was so nice to have Allyson and Willem spend more time together, have a little more closure, and nice to have more time with Forman’s writing.

58. Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger-Interesting concept, slow read (for me).  Took a while for me to get through this, though I did eventually get to like the characters.  We’ll see how soon I pick up the second book.

59. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter-This is the second book in the Heist Society Series.  Ally Carter just writes such fun books, full of action and unique characters.  I will read anything she writes (and actually can’t wait for her next series).

60. Pawn by Aimee Carter-At first I was worried that the premise of this dystopian series seemed a little derivative, and there are certainly aspects that are similar to other books.  However, I still found it to be an action-packed and enjoyable read, if you aren’t already suffering from dystopian fatigue.

61. If I Stay by Gayle Forman-Despite my deep and abiding love for Just One Day and Just One Year, the premise of If I Stay never appealed to me.  Even though I read rave review after rave review, I still wouldn’t pick the book up.  Then I happened upon it at a library book sale, one of those where you stuff a bag full for a small amount of money, and it found its way onto my shelves.  And on the heels of Just One Night, I decided I needed more Gayle Forman, and, what do you know, all those other reviews were right.  I continued to love Forman’s writing style and rich characters.  Definitely a favorite.

62. Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs-Another favorite for the year.  Anytime a book is set at summer camp or on a road trip, I’m pretty much guaranteed to pick it up.  This one was the former, and I loved it.  Then again, I love any time authors bring smart, complex teenagers to life, and that definitely happened in this book.

63. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson-Morgan Matson is another automatic read for me, but I was a little worried this one wouldn’t live up to her previous two novels, which I loved so much.  I still am not a huge fan of how the plot came about, because of the somewhat sinister implications that arise when someone ‘disappears;’ nonetheless, I liked the idea of the main character taking on challenges and pushing herself, and I always enjoy a little romance, so, while not my favorite Matson book, I did enjoy it.

64. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling-Well, after reading the first one, I couldn’t very well stop.  This books has always been, and continues to be, my least favorite in the series; that being said, the worst Harry Potter book is still better than a great many other books around.

 

And that’s all for June-July’s reads will be reviewed in another few days.

Reading Retrospective: May

Well, it appears I took quite the hiatus from the land of blogging.  There is much to catch up on, including a move to a new city, work at a new job, challenges and successes at said job, and new discoveries in the world of books and reading.  Since I didn’t quite keep up with the monthly reading recaps, I thought that during December, in advance of an end of year wrap up, I’d retrospectively fill you in on what I’ve been reading.  Since quite a lot of months have passed since I’ve done one of these, each one will get its own post, so maybe people will actually read to the end.  Anyway, without further delay, here is what I read in May:

40. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor-Wow, this book was enormous.  This trilogy is one of my favorites ever, and third books in trilogies are often disappointing, but Laini Taylor’s writing is so beautiful that even though this wasn’t necessarily my favorite book in the series, I was definitely happy with it.  I have to say that I love Ziri even more now, and am I wrong in thinking that the ending sort of left an opening for a spin-off series?

41. The Last Best Kiss by Claire LaZebnik-YA based on Persuasion by Jane Austen.  Definitely an enjoyable, sweet, read, if not super memorable.

42. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han-Oh my goodness, I LOVED this book.  I’ve read all of Jenny Han’s books, and I think she’s a good writer, but I’ve always been underwhelmed by her YA books-I’ve thought her books aimed at younger audiences (Shug and Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream) were superior.  Until now.  Lara Jean is an amazing main character, the book is hilarious and smart and I fell in love with the characters, and I am so, so glad there’s going to be a sequel.

43. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer-You know how so many realistic YA books these days are advertised as perfect for fans of John Green or Rainbow Rowell, but it so rarely turns out to be true?  That was actually one of the first things I thought of when reading this-the smart, witty dialogue reminded me of John Green’s characters.  That being said, I started off really loving this book, but then there was a twist-type occurrence and it really sort of put a damper on my enjoyment of the book.  I did like that the ending of the book wasn’t necessarily all happy and resolved, but more realistic.

44. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner-Second book in the Maze Runner series.  I liked the first book in the series, but things went downhill from there.  I know dystopian societies are no picnic, but I found some of the gratuitous bloodshed and death to be really disturbing, and I didn’t like the premise of the task in this book or some of the puppetmasters’ (so to speak) actions.  Not a favorite.

45. The Death Cure by James Dashner-Despite the second book not being a favorite, I wanted to finish the trilogy.  I was equally unimpressed with this third book, and I found the religious symbolism of the ending to be a bit heavy-handed.

46. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson- I love Laurie Halse Anderson, I think her writing is great and she is willing to tackle big issues in her books.  I don’t think this is necessarily my Reading Retrospective: Mayfavorite of her books, but it was still a good read.

47. Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins-I enjoyed the Hex Hall series, so thought I’d give this one a try.  I liked the premise better than Hex Hall, but didn’t find the romantic aspect as compelling.  That said, I do like Rachel Hawkins’ writing style, and after that ending, I feel like I need to read the next book to find out what happens.

48. Don’t Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley-One of my biggest YA pet peeves is terrible parents-those who don’t understand their kids, or are absent, or just really don’t have a clue.  I feel like this happens more frequently in YA novels than in real life.  And this book definitely has that.  However, I also think it’s an interesting look at how prominent blogging is these days.  Not a favorite of the year, but I still enjoyed it.

49. Now and Forever by Susane Colasanti-When I read the synopsis for this one, I thought it could end up being my favorite Colasanti book.  Then I started reading, and I just didn’t LIKE the main character.  I don’t know if it was the personality or the writing style, but it just didn’t sound like an authentic voice to me.  I did like the direction the book took in regard to one famous and one non-famous person dating-it definitely wasn’t your standard fantasy scenario, which was refreshing.

50. Legend by Marie Lu-Another dystopian trilogy, another main character who starts off thinking her society is good and just, then realizes how flawed it is.  Same old, same old…and yet I still loved this book.  June and Day were great characters, and I liked the plot so much better than some others in the genre.  I’d definitely recommend this one.

Well, that’s it for May.  I’ll be back again soon (for real!) with June’s reads.

What I’ve Been Reading-February, March, April

So, remember when I mentioned in my January Reads post that the rate at which I’d been reading would probably be unsustainable?  Well, that happened in a big way.  So much so that I didn’t even feel like it was worth it to do a February update.  And then I just sort of forgot about March.  But I think I’ve gotten my reading groove back, though I still don’t have as much time as I’d like to read, between actual work and finishing up all of my library school requirements so I can graduate this month.  So, without any further rambling, here’s an update on what I’ve read these past 3 months:

20. Early Decision: Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford-I’m actually truly fascinated by the college admissions process-I debated for a long time whether I wanted to be a guidance counselor or librarian (obviously, you know which one won in the end).  So this book about a private college consultant and the neurotic families for which she worked was very interesting to me.

21. Divas Don’t Knit by Gil McNeil-Another thing I’m weirdly fascinated by is knitting.  Even though I’m still working on the same scarf I started like 5 years ago, I secretly want to be an awesome knitter, and I really like books about people who knit.  This book, the first in a series, not only featured a knitting shop in a cute English seaside town, but also was more hilarious than I expected.  I’ll definitely be reading the others in the series.

22. Going Rogue by Robin Benway-I loved the first book in this series so much.  This one was good, but not quite as great.  I still loved zany best friend Roux, and there was still a lot of action, and I’m still very drawn to teenage spies, especially when they are as awesome as Maggie.  I hope the series will continue.

23. Needles and Pearls by Gil McNeil-A sequel to Divas Don’t Knit.  I actually have very little memory of what happened in this book, so I guess that’s not a super strong recommendation, though it seemed perfectly enjoyable at the time.

24. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close-I remember when this book came out, the number of holds placed on it at the library was ridiculously high.  I liked it, and found it relatable, but I guess I wasn’t as impressed by it as I thought I’d be.  I also found the ending to be really anticlimactic.

25. The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt-I really, really loved Sean Griswold’s Head AND Going Vintage, so I had really high hopes for this one.  Again, I found it to be good, but not great (apparently the theme for these past few books is mediocrity, at least for me).  I don’t know if it was the setting of Las Vegas, a city in which I’ve really never been interested, or the way things develop between the main character and her love interest, but I just didn’t love it.

26. Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke-I originally picked up one of these mystery novels because I liked the idea that recipes were incorporated.  That’s pretty much why I keep reading them.  The characters annoy me, particularly the main character and her struggle, through 17 books, to choose between two men (somewhat reminiscent of another popular mystery series…), but they’re easy reads, and I still like the recipes.  This one was no different.

27. Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor-Finally, a book I can recommend. I know that a lot of people really didn’t like the main character and some of the medical things in this book, but they weren’t really problems for me.  I enjoyed the friendship between the two characters a lot, and definitely did my fair share of crying.

28. Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich-Stephanie Plum continues to be hilarious.  I will read as many of these books as Janet Evanovich writes.  They’re just easy, fun reads.

29. #16thingsithoughtweretrue by Janet Gurtler-I love road trip books.  I thought the main character was a little shallow and social media obsessed, and I didn’t like how abruptly things happened toward the end of the book.  But it was still an enjoyable read.

30. Hung Up by Kristen Tracy-Not a super memorable book, but it was cute and fun.  I always like when books are told through letters, text messages, etc., and this one was no different.  I probably won’t feel the need to reread it, but it was a quick, lighthearted read.

31. Panic by Lauren Oliver-I have really mixed feelings about Lauren Oliver.  I think she is a brilliant writer, but I didn’t love how the plot panned out in the Delirium series.  I was excited to read something of hers in a different genre, and I liked the premise of this book.  It wasn’t a standout for me, but I definitely continue to appreciate Oliver’s writing.

32. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski-Love, love, LOVED this book.  Hate, hate, HATE that I didn’t realize it was the first in a trilogy and I’m going to have to wait forever to find out what happens next.

33. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan-I enjoyed Riordan’s other series much more than I thought I would, so I decided to give this one a chance while I wait for the final Heroes of Olympus book.  I’m choosing to reserve judgment at this point.  It was good, but no Percy Jackson.  We’ll see what happens as the series goes on.

34. Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano-This book bothered me SO much.  I should have known, when I couldn’t ever get in to Wither, that maybe DeStefano isn’t the best author for me.  But SO many things weren’t explained, and so many OTHER things were so derivative.  Once it got to the end, the plot picked up and I feel like I’ll read the next book because I want to know what happens…but still.  Not my favorite.

35. Frozen by Erin Bowman-A very enjoyable second book in a series.  There was plenty of action, a few things I didn’t expect, and nothing I remember that really bothered me.  Looking forward to the next installment.

36. Balancing Acts by Zoe Fishman-I don’t read a ton of adult fiction, but there have been some titles that have really appealed to me lately, and this is one of them.  I love New York, so books set there are often some of my favorites, and one character seriously annoyed me with her lack of growth for most of the story, but overall, very enjoyable.

37. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy-Yeah, yeah, another cancer book.  But this one has a twist-the character with cancer actually LIVES, and has to deal with the consequences of what she did when she thought she would die.  It was certainly a new take on things, and the character was well written and complex, if not always likeable.

38. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith-I really like Smith’s books.  I’m not sure any have measured up, for me at least, to The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, but I enjoy them nonetheless.  This one seemed slightly less realistic to me, but I really enjoyed the settings (now I’m daydreaming about a trip to Scotland myself).

39. The Maze Runner by James Dashner-The first time I tried to read this, I really couldn’t get into it, but I decided to give in another chance, and I couldn’t put it down.  At first the language and the inability to picture the setting in my head were really disorienting to me, but the action picked up and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

 

Well, that’s all, folks.  I hope to be more on top of keeping track of reading and updating the blog now that graduation is thisclose.

More Thoughts on Peer Instruction

Peer instruction, a technique in which students answer questions, present arguments as to why their answer is correct to a partner or small group, and then answer the questions again, this time with (hopefully) a better understanding of the concept, has proven to be a successful way to engage students in learning experiences.  This method is beneficial because it gives students more than one potential teacher, and the more ways something is explained, the more chances a student has of understanding the concept.  Additionally, it makes students think critically about their processes for arriving at answers, and come up with a well thought out argument in defense of their answer choices.  Learning how to think critically is as important as learning the content or skills, so this is a definite benefit of peer instruction.

Despite its obvious advantages, is peer instruction something that could work in a secondary library?  I think it could, with some adaptations from its original format in college lecture courses.  Ryan Campbell, a secondary teacher, has some tips for adapting peer instruction to work in a high school class, including writing clearly defined learning objectives, using peer instruction for skills as well as content, and limiting the time spent on direct instruction/lecturing. [1] (More of his tips can be found here.)

These tips are helpful for librarians in addition to classroom teachers, particularly since we are often teaching skills rather than content.  In a secondary library lesson, the librarian may teach students how to evaluate a website to determine whether it is a reliable resource, and then implement peer instruction with questions related to this skill.  Students may be given a website to evaluate, and then have to explain to their partner or group members why it is or is not a reliable source.  This could be adapted for different skills, or even different situations.  Although it strays somewhat from the original technique, students working on a research project could explain to a partner their process for locating information on a topic, new information they learned about their topic, how they are planning to present or publish their new knowledge, etc.

Peer instruction empowers students by allowing them to take on the role of teacher, while at the same time helping them to develop important critical thinking skills.  It is definitely something that could be beneficial in a library setting.

References

1. Campbell, R. (2012, June 19). Does peer instruction work in high schools? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://blog.peerinstruction.net/2012/06/19/does-peer-instruction-work-in-high-schools-2/

 

Peer Instruction in the Library

So, last time, I started talking about what peer instruction is, how it works, and why it is beneficial. Now that we know what it is, we can talk about how peer instruction can be used in the library.

Peer instruction was initially designed for, and has mostly been used in, the university setting; however, I think it would still be a useful technique in elementary or secondary schools, though some modifications may be necessary.  What would peer instruction look like in an elementary setting?

In the library, the skills being taught aren’t content area skills, but rather information literacy and inquiry skills. After the librarian teaches a mini-lesson on, for example, using the library catalog, she could ask students questions, such as how to find a particular book in the catalog, or why a particular search was unsuccessful. Students can answer individually (perhaps by using clickers, or another tool like Socrative or PollEverywhere, depending on the available technology). Students must then defend their answers to a partner or small group.  Finally, the librarian has all students answer again, and is able to see if the percentage of students who understand has improved.

While the questions asked in the library might not have the same concrete answers as those in the content area classes, the process of students explaining to one another how they figured something out, and helping others to understand a concept or idea, is very beneficial, despite the different setting. The librarian is teaching students the basics of the skill or concept, but the students must describe their thought process, present an argument for their answer, and, at times, teach other students why and how to do a certain thing.  Students are sometimes better able to explain things to other students than the teacher, so this technique can be a useful one for teachers and librarians.