Lorenzo Walker Tech HS & Institute of Tech

Friday, July 04, 2008

Summer Book Notes

Although still quite busy at work, I've managed to squeeze in more time for reading some of those long awaited dust collectors on my book shelf! Here's a quick 'note' about them:
  • The Fold by An Na - The author attacks physical attraction and attractiveness head-on in her newest book with references to plastic surgery and other self-image issues. I was especially drawn to this book because of the Korean-American characters having lived in Seoul for two years as a teenager. References to the Korean culture, physical attributes and language did not disappoint, either! A Junior Literary Guild selection.

  • The Postcard by Tony Abbott - Such fun - a mystery within a mystery! What made it really inviting was the use of old Florida postcard clues to develop an engaging, wacky, and humorous adventure, especially if you are familiar with the landmarks, history, and culture of the Tampa Bay/Sarasota area. It is being marketed to the middle school grades, but I can envision many high schoolers taking it for a read! Also a Junior Literary Guild selection.

  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - See I told you the dust was collecting....Yes, this one has been out for a while and there's even a movie that has come and gone...This book was quite compelling and I was simultaneously sad and angry during much of the content as the worst of humanity was exposed page after page. Naturally, there were important lessons as well, including a chance to find ways to bridge differences (cultural, religious, economic, gender). The author's second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, is now on my reading list as it was also named a Florida Teens Read for 2008.

  • Street Love by Walter Dean Myers - As the title intimates, this is a love story reflecting teenagers with 'street smarts'. It's emotional pangs and triumphs are punctuated by the free verse poetry style that only Myers can pen. Students who have borrowed it have enjoyed the taut drama and the easy reading. It is also a 2008 selection for the Florida Teens Read nomination.

  • The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer - This one's content is haunting and disturbing...for it's potential reality. Imagine an apocalyptic event - in this case a collision between the moon and an asteroid which dramatically changes the world climate - and then think about what would happen to the survivors. Yes, there is a fair amount of death in this story and unlike other fictional work, you can envision this new world so the dying seems more real. Nevertheless, it is gripping and one of those books you are compelled to read to the end. A Junior Library Guild selection.

  • The Dip by Seth Godin - And now for a change of pace! This little gem from the marketing guru is a delightful reminder of "when to quit (and when to stick)" The dip is that 'bump in the road' that you either persist through with focus and motivation to meet your goal or, in some cases, purposely assess the pros and cons weighing the likelihood of succes and giving yourself permission to 'quit' for a more appropriate goal. Short and sweet with many a re-reading in the future, this book goes well beyond the marketing theme!

That's it for the first half of summer - I've got more on my list (naturally!), so we'll see what I can share for the second half!

Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Concrete is Only the Foundation!

It is hard to believe that two years has passed so quickly @LWTHS! Watching portable city and the student population grow and develop has been incredibly exciting....and now we are just a couple of short months away from the opening of the new high school building (phase 1 of a three-phase construction project)! All of the windows are in and the building has been painted since this picture was taken in early May.

The 'insides' are well on their way to completion, as well!

And as we prepare for the next phase of construction of the Career Center buildings, I'm constantly reminded that the concrete buildings are only the mere foundation of what our school is all about - it's mostly about the people (the students, the teachers, and the staff) and the process of learning (about academic subjects, technical applications, and ourselves and each other). So, thanks to all of you who contribute to our unique environment!

Photo credit to Colemama on Flickr

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Off the Shelf 0708-16

Rules of the Red Rubber Ball

By Kevin Carroll
© 2004

What an inspirational package of positivism and accolades to start off a new year! Just like those annual resolutions, the premise of this book will be challenging to put in action. Nonetheless, the author takes a creative look to help us choose and follow our passion, otherwise described as the "red rubber ball." The rules of that crimson sphere are fairly pedestrian - though still valuable - but Carroll's approach is fresh and inviting:

  • Commit to your passion - make it yours!
  • Connect and network with others - especially the encouragers!
  • Create - when you do so, you'll see things differently!
  • Get ready to put in time and energy - it is often hard, lonely and unglamorous!
  • Challenge limitations - work through the obstacles!
  • Anticipate the unpredictable - believe in coincidence!
  • Check your focus - be in the present to influence the future!
If you need a lift, take the half-hour to read this power-packed jewel - but be prepared to take much more time to actually 'use' its message!

My recommendation: 5 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Off the Shelf 0708-15


By Carl Deuker
© 2005

Chance Taylor is a 17-year-old high school student who runs - primarily as a means to escape his reality. His mother left him years ago with an alcoholic father who can't hold onto a regular job. They live on a dilapidated sailboat on a month to month basis. He doesn't fit in at school and has few friends. One day his world turns upside down as he accepts a 'courier job' running packages as part of his regular daily runs. This activity leads to multiple adventures and interesting relationships, even changing Chance's viewpoint of his father.

Once the plot gets underway, the intrigue and suspense are addicting, providing a fast-paced read. Though there is some predictability, the reader is rewarded with various twists and turns - all sprinkled with life issues of divorce and family, poverty and wealth, and coping with individuality versus affiliation. In addition, post 9-11 terrorism plays a role in the story! With all of the facets to this engaging book, you will find yourself reaching for it every spare moment.

My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Off the Shelf 0708-14

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

By James L. Swanson
Audiobook read by Richard Thomas
© 2006

I didn't think I would like this book - after all, how interesting could it be to trace the events of the hunt for John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abe Lincoln in 1865? And, I'm relatively certain that I would not have read the text version, but Richard Thomas (of The Walton's fame) read it to me...and I was 'under the spell' of this story. Not only did I enjoy the detailed account, but I learned a lot, as well. Swanson, a member of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, is well-versed in the assassination in the Ford Theater and, though he was a bit repetitive, he shares his knowledge and expertise well.

From our lessons in history, we know about the assassination and a little about the assassin, but did you know that

  • Booth had fellow conspirators?
  • in his escape on a waiting horse, Booth breaks a leg, thereby influencing his escape plans?
  • Booth was an actor from a well-established family?
  • the manhunt was unknowingly prolonged by both Confederate soldiers and Union calvary alike?
  • Booth's persuasive personality convinced many to 'aid and abet' him and his cause?

Using primary documents (to include Booth's diary and newspaper accounts), Swanson's believable account takes you into the mind, heart and soul of Booth. His website provides supplemental resources, as well. This historical reading is well worth your time!

My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Lessons on Copyright the Robotic Way!

Though this post is a reminder of copyright issues, it is also a focus on one of the many cool things going on at our campus!

Our ACE (Academy of Career Education) students are juniors and seniors from all of the county's high schools dually enrolled in postsecondary vocational certificate classes in pursuit of a technical career. Brenda Harrison's ACE Computer Electronics class created a video of their robots and robotic programming. Their focal point here was the content, but we all appreciated the venue of production and wanted to share it outside of the classroom.

Upon investigation of the background music (a key element of the production), it was assumed under copyright protection - and though, students gave attribution, ethical and legal lessons determined that more was needed - either substitute another song with public domain or Creative Commons license OR seek permission from the artist. Finding an 'approved' musical title was not an option - this song 'worked'! So, with some doubt as to a positive response, a request for permission was sent to the musician, Dani Garza - a week later, we were happily surprised with 'permission granted' along with the comment, "I think it would be wonderful to let students use my music."

Thus, reinforcement for the teaching and practicing of digital ethics AND the continued efforts to allow student's learning to include creation of new content, experimentation of new skills and sharing with others!

Off the Shelf 0708-13

You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah
By Fiona Rosenbloom

© 2007

Stacy Adelaide Friedman is a few weeks from becoming a Bat Mitzvah. According to Jewish law, after the event she will be an adult. She has many high hopes for that day…the perfect dress, her best friends, and most importantly…Andy Goldfarb. Unfortunately, what Stacy learns is that things do not always work out the way she plans. She and her mother do not agree on her dress, her parents have separated and do not appear to be getting back together, and Andy Goldfarb does not seem to realize that he is supposed to help her be the first friend in her group to have a boyfriend. He also, apparently, has caused a crisis between Stacy and her best friend Lydia.

It is all of these disappointments that Stacy unloads to Rabbi Sherwin at Bat Mitzvah practice. He, in turn, teaches her that if she sacrifices for others rather than thinking primarily about herself, she will be rewarded. He encourages her to perform three mitzvahs, or good deeds. With great difficulty, Stacy manages to arrive at only two mitzvahs on which she promptly starts to work, but she is unable to determine what the third should be. Until it hits her right in the middle of her Torah reading, and it cannot wait!

Stacy ultimately does learn the value of the mitzvah and the value of friendship…with or without Andy Goldfarb.

My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars
Submitted by Judi Lewis, Financial Aid Facilitator

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Veteran's Day

To honor Veteran's Day, Donna Lang's World History classes created tributes to all of the men and women who have served and are currently serving in the military. Using PhotoStory 3 and Creative Commons images from Flickr, they interpreted a poem by Ruth E. Longwell or crafted their own text. Their videos were shared with and appreciated by veterans on our campus and beyond.

Students were reflective and respectful, understanding the somber emphasis, as they live through televised war stories on a daily basis. This one was created by Gloria - personal, emotional and touching:

Off the Shelf 0708-12

Broken Moon
By Kim Antieau

© 2007

Pakistan is in the news these days. For most Americans, it has become a country of unknowns and, in some cases, undesired practices. Broken Moon uncovers some of those cultural differences - exploring tribal rule, paternalistic authority, and surviving the desert environment. Readers are immediately drawn into Nadira's story as she struggles to maintain her dignity amidst a culture with little respect for young women. She is victimized and abused for an illegal act that her older brother allegedly committed. When her younger brother (to whom she is truly devoted) is kidnapped to race camels, Nadira is devastated and seeks to rescue him.

Antieau's writing is free-flowing and engaging. She sets much of the story as letters that Nadira writes to her younger brother, which reveal personal emotions and thoughts in both relationships and adventures. The author also employs the Persian fable of Scheherazade, a young girl who persuaded the King to spare her life by creating anticipation in her storytelling. When Nadira needs to manipulate the bullies in the desert, she effectively draws upon her own storytelling.

There are many layers to discover in this relatively short book - it will be one to re-read and capture new nuances and discoveries!

My recommendation: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Off the Shelf 0708-11

By Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
CD Audiobook read by Stephen J. Dubner
© 2006

Subtitled, A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, this might entice you to read a book about economics - then again....maybe not! Economics is not normally thought of as a best-selling novel topic, but Freakonomics takes the social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services (Wikipedia) to another level. In fact, you really owe yourself a favor by reading this book - really! The premise of the book is to explain phenomena by seeing it from another perspective - by asking the right questions and drawing the right connections. For example, they share their perspective of the reduced crime rate not by increased police protection, but by legalized abortion two decades earlier. As one might expect, they often draw controversy with their alien concepts, but seeing their connections invites good thinking!

So, who knew writers could untangle statistics in such a way as to make for an enjoyable read - made even better when listened to on this audiobook? Their story is fascinating and will have you wanting to know more! Fortunately, they continue their writing and exploration of unusual analysis through their blog posts at the New York Times edition of Freakonomics.

My recommendation: 5 out of 5 stars
Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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