Len Vlahos Author Visit Review

len vlahosWe were delighted to have Author Len Vlahos visit our library February 25. His first book, The Scar Boys, was just published in January. He inspired our students and staff attending the assemblies Periods 5 and 6 with his love of music and his message of how it can transform lives. He also entertained us with one of his songs and invited students to come up and share their musical talents with us. And, we got to enjoy some incredible talent! Thanks to all the students who volunteered.

Vlahos also read the opening of his book, in which Harbinger (Harry) Jones starts a college admissions essay sharing some of his personal history, explaining “I played guitar in the greatest punk rock band you’ve never hear of.” The entire book is a continuation of this essay, explaining how he became scarred in an accident when he was very young making him a pariah due to his disfigurement, how he and his friend form a punk rock band; and what happens when a girl joins the band. Here is a video I recorded of the first session using Google+ Hangouts:

Visit our Flickr page for some photos from the visit.

To learn more about Len Vlahos, visit his website and his Flickr page.

Here is a link to his Scar Boys YouTube Channel

To enter his contest, visit this page on his website.

Many thanks to Len Vlahos for visiting us and to {pages} Bookstore for arranging it. Please come to the library to borrow copies of The Scar Boys, or visit {pages} to purchase a copy.

CSLA Conference Takeaways on Common Core, College & Career Readiness

I am still in the midst of processing all the great takeaways from an incredibly exhilarating California School Library Association Conference February 6 – 9. Please see my posting on my personal blog for a summary of some of the highlights, including the Unconference I organized and a session on Twitter as a professional development tool that I co-presented. The posting here focuses on several sessions related to Common Core and college and career readiness.

Kevin Baird Keynote

Kevin Baird, Chairman and Senior Faculty at the Curriculum Institute and the Center for College and Career Readiness, was our keynote speaker.  I have been finding lately that my best “notes” from a conference presentation are my tweets, so here they are, assembled using a new favorite tool called Storify, from his session:

Mr. Baird also helped me to better understand the need to help students stretch themselves to be able to read more complex texts. One of the points he shared is that many out-of-high school careers students may enter, such, for example, as law and public safety, actually require them to read more complex texts at higher lexile levels than college texts. That means that we do need to help students but providing more complex texts, but I also believe that the more pleasure reading they do, the better readers they will become, and the more able they will be to read complex material. So, I see my job in the library providing both stretch texts and engaging pleasure reading.

Mr. Baird also shared how the new standards include different depth of knowledge levels and advised us to work to become experts in supporting teaching at the needed level for each standard.

He was extremely generous with us as conference attendees, and provided us with free access to an online Depth of Knowledge guide, model performance tasks, and Common Core-aligned lesson plans that I will be able to study and share with my teachers and administration.

College Readiness-Related Concurrent Sessions

I also attended two concurrent sessions that dealt with preparing students to be college-ready. Sara Oremland, the Teacher Librarian at Albany High School, shared two videos that she produced, one for students and one for teachers, to share what she learned from interviewing college students, professors, and librarians sharing what high school research should be like to prepare for college research. Here is the student video, intended to motivate them to conduct effective research:

Here is the teacher video, intended to help high school teachers understand the benefits of Authentic Research projects:

In another concurrent session, Doug Achterman, Head Librarian at Gavilan College and a former high school teacher librarian, shared results of a series of interviews he conducted with community college instructors about their expectations around students’ reading, writing and research. Far too many students come to community college improperly prepared with the reading, writing, and research skills needed. He helped us explore the implications for supporting teachers and students through our library programs to better prepare students for community or other college expectations, which are in alignment with what we need to be teaching as part of Common Core.

I will be working to use and share this material throughout the rest of this school year and beyond.

Len Vlahos Author Visit

Len Vlahos visitYour Mira Costa Library is pleased to announce that Author Len Vlahos is visiting Mira Costa onTuesday, February 25, 2014, and will be speaking about his craft at two sessions during Period 5 and Period 6 in the library.

Mr. Vlahos has just published his first book, The Scar Boys. The book is written as a college admission essay in which Harry Jones describes what it has been like growing up with the hideous scars all over his body and how his life changes when he and his first friend form a punk rock band together. Music lovers will enjoy noting that the title of each chapter is the taken from a song title.

Students can sign up to attend one of the sessions during Period 5 or 6. See Mrs. Lofton in the library for a permission form or print out a form from this link. No permission form is needed if you have an unassigned period.

The library has some copies of Scar Boys to borrow, but we encourage you to purchase your own copy to enjoy and keep. Mr. Vlahos will be signing books right after school on February 25. We have arranged with {pages} bookstore, our local Manhattan Beach independent book vendor, to provide the books, and a portion of your purchases will also benefit our library. You can visit {pages} to purchase a copy in advance, or order from {pages} online to have your copy delivered to MCHS. You will also be able to purchase books on the day of the visit.

Please contact me with any questions.

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