Thursday, December 20, 2012

Best of the Year 2012

The fact that I have not posted to this blog in weeks is not going to stop me from getting in on the end-of-the-year-list goodness!  Although I have not updated this blog as much as I would like, I have still posted more this calendar year than ever before, so I'm going to celebrate with a list of my favorite things I blogged about this year:

::Favorite Children's Book: The False Prince by Jennifer Neilsen. 

This one was easy, because my hands-down favorite read this year was The False Prince by Jennifer Neilsen.  I've also loved sharing this book, both with my mock Newbery group and my students--especially the ones who like fat books like Rick Riordan's series.  It's the kind of book I give a skeptical student when I know I have exactly one shot to convince him or her that reading is awesome.
From my review:
But this novel really is that swashbuckling.  It's not hard to guess where the plot is going, especially if you grew up watching movies like The Prisoner of Zenda.  But that doesn't make it any less satisfying.  And yes, I've read a lot of middle grade novels with sides of beef and swords and tapestries and drawbridges and secret passages, but I'm still thrilled when I read a really good one.

::Favorite YA Book: The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coates.

Here, I'm somewhat limited in that I didn't blog about many of the YA books I read.  However, I feel like lots has been said about Seraphina and Code Name Verity, two other books that I would consider naming my favorite.  Less has been said about The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coates, but it's another book that I read almost nonstop.
From my review:
Having read so many romantic adventure stories about rebellions against the English crown, I was anxious for Cecily to befriend Gwenhwyfar, make out with a Welsh boy, and stand up to some kind of powerful English person--a Burgess or Burger or whatever.  But that was not to be.  Cecily and Gwenhwyfar are at war for most of the book, and it's not a catty, hair-pulling war.  It's a war that almost kills Gwenhwyfar.

::Favorite Online Tool: Edcanvas

I was a little disappointed when I discovered this site didn't work with the version of IE on the school computers--and I can't install Firefox, so I can't have students create their own canvases.  However, I hold out hope that it will soon work with other browsers, and I have found it easier to use than Clipboard, because I don't have to install a button on every browser I use.  Other sites I've used this year are Edmodo, Scootpad, and Biblionasium, but let's be honest--I didn't blog about them, so according to by own criteria, Edcanvas wins!
From my review:
Four Reasons why I like Edcanvas: 
1. Students can sign up using a teacher code, so no email required.
2. Students' saved links are laid out on a "canvas," so like Pinterest and Clipboard, it's a nice visual representation of resources.
3. You can save written notes and uploaded files as well as websites, so you can really get all your research in one place.  (See my little note up there?)
4. I can see all of my students' canvases by clicking on "my class."  So I can easily evaluate the students' research process.

::Favorite Booklist: What Would Suzie Bishop Read?

The film Moonrise Kingdom did a wonderful job of capturing the feeling of reading odd fantasy books from the 1960s.  In fact, the movie felt like an ode to young, moody readers everywhere. My own snapshot of what children's novels were available to a precocious girl of 1965 received a lot of traffic and inspired me to start collecting hardcover books I read as a child.
From my list:
After seeing the movie, which is very clearly set in 1965, I wondered: what books might Suzy really have carried in her suitcase (you know, if she was real, also).  The first book that popped into my head was The Goats, by Brock Cole, because it involves children torturing each other, runaways, and islands.  But that wasn't published until 1987.  In fact, while lots of people have described Suzy's collection as "fake YA books," the YA category didn't really exist yet. 

::Favorite Rant: The Dewey Decimal System

I feel so strongly about this!  I don't hate Dewey, but it drives me crazy when people champion it just because everybody's doing it.  However, this year there was plenty of evidence that I'm not alone--in particular, there was an SLJ cover story on METIS that I found fascinating.  It's time to think outside the decimal!
From my rant:
I don't want my students to memorize Dewey.  I want them to be able to use a call number to locate a physical book, because that's a useful skill.  But mostly I want them to look for patterns, make connections, and discover the logic of systems around them.  I'm pretty sure that if I succeed, then they'll be able to transfer those skills to lots of situations, including libraries with different organization systems. 

So there you have it, a few of my favorite things!  What were your favorites this year?

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