Marisa Reichardt Author Visit

Marisa ReichardtThe library is delighted to be hosting author Marisa Reichardt on Wednesday, February 10. Ms. Reichardt, wife of Mira Costa Ceramics teacher and Water Polo coach Jon Reichardt, will be speaking about her first novel, Underwater, which was just published this month. Here is the publisher’s description of this YA realistic fiction book:

In the aftermath of a deadly high school shooting, seventeen-year-old Morgan is an agoraphobe trapped in the apartment she shares with her mother and brother. When surfer boy Evan moves in next door, she has to face the life she’s been missing.


Ms. Reichardt will be speaking to students during both AM and PM Office Hours on February 10. Students can choose to attend either in the morning or the afternoon. Following each session, we will also have books for sale and she will be signing books.

Do purchase a copy of this engaging, thought-provoking book. We have arranged with {pages} bookstore, a local Manhattan Beach independent book vendor, to provide the books at the discounted price of $16. To order in advance online, go to and {pages} will deliver the book to our library for you. You will also be able to purchase books on the day of the visit at each of the presentation sessions and during lunch, but we encourage pre-orders to guarantee availability.

Here is a flyer about the visit.

Parents and members of the community are welcome. Be sure to sign in in the office.

Banned Books Week

Banned Books WeekBanned Books Week – coming up next week – is an annual celebration sponsored by the American Library Association which brings awareness to the importance of protecting the freedom to read what we choose, even when works may be unorthodox or unpopular. Unfortunately, many books have been challenged or banned in many schools and communities where individuals work to impose their own censorship ideas on others.

To inform our students about the importance of this right to access to books and information, the Mira Costa Library has a display of banned books and is holding a contest. Both students AND teachers can participate in the contest, which is based on a Google Form (so can be done from anywhere, and even on a mobile device) with 6 questions. It asks the participants to visit informative sites as they progress through it. All participants will be entered in a drawing to win a $10 gift certificate of their choice. Entries are due by Monday, October 5.

So, visit the library display, but go ahead and start the contest below, or visit this link – – or QR code:

BBW contest qr code

Library YA Author Panel Rocks!

YA Authors with Library Club members

Our Young Adult (YA) Author Panel on Wednesday was a great success! We hosted three wonderful authors – Robin Benway, Gretchen McNeil, and 2010 Costa Graduate Emily Wibberley. They all shared interesting and helpful tips about writing during the panel and were so willing to visit with our students, teachers, and community members before and afterwards. As a school librarian, authors are my rock stars. I am always star struck when I meet an author, and, over and over again, I am surprised and delighted that most of them treat me as a friend and colleague. Our three visiting authors were all incredibly friendly to everyone.

I was also very proud of our library club members who organized the event, and especially of Colette for leading the effort and moderating. We got rave reviews from the attendees, and a number of people purchased books from {pages} bookstore and got them signed. If you missed the event, I’m pleased that we were able to tape it using Google Hangouts On Air. Here is the recording:

Here are photos I uploaded to Flickr from the event:

Here is my tweet commentary during the event:

Many thanks to our authors for coming, our library club for organizing, {pages} for providing books for sale, and to everyone who attended. Don’t forget to buy or get copies of the authors books from the library. I’m also looking forward to new titles by all three authors in June:

  • Robin Benway’s Emmy & Oliver 
  • Gretchen McNeil’s Get Dirty, the sequel to Get Even
  • Emily Wibberley’s sequel to Sacrificed


Participate in the International Student Blogging Challenge

student blogging challengeThere’s probably no better way for students to build a positive digital footprint they can be proud of than than through blogging. Blogging gives you the opportunity to practice informal writing, develop your personal writing voice, and to share with a global audience. You will also learn valuable digital citizenship and tech skills as you create and customize your blog and add text, images, videos, links.

To help you with your blogging skills and assure that your postings will be read by an international audience, consider participating in the semi-annual International Student Blogging Challenge. The next challenge starts March 1. Each week for 10 weeks, you will be given new tasks and challenges to complete in postings, commenting on other blogs, or working on your blog design and sidebar contents.

Mira Costa students who participate will be recognized in a special library display and will receive a certificate of completion that can be shared with their teachers. Do participate! Visit this link to get information and sign up. You can also contact me with any questions or for help.

Spanish Class Mystery Hangout

Mystery Hangout

Sra. Rossell’s AP Spanish students had an engaging challenge on February 3. We connected them via Google Hangouts with Sra. Díaz-Ross’s Spanish 3 Honors class at Menlo School in Atherton, CA. I was able to make the connection between the two classes when I reached out through the Google+ GlobalTL community, and Cathy Rettberg, the Menlo School Librarian, responded and put me in touch with Sra. Díaz-Ross. Sra. Rossell’s class has been blogging for some time, and we wanted to find her students an audience outside our school for their postings. Sra. Díaz-Ross is interested in the possibility of having her students blog, and she welcomed having the two classes meet through a mystery hangout.

Here is how a mystery hangout works. The teachers or librarians find each other and set a date for the two classes to meet in a Google Hangout or Skype session. The students know about the event, but not where the other class is. They prepare for the get together in advance by brainstorming a number of questions and possible clues to share with the other class. The game rules are that each class alternates asking questions that require a yes or no answer. The goal is to be the first class to identify the school of the other class. We teachers decided, due to time restrictions, to also allow limited clues if no one guessed the location after about 25 minutes. Each of our class members had different “roles,” including introducer, questioner, photographer, videographer, and recorder. All of the students participated in being researchers, attempting through Google maps and other online sites to narrow down where the other school was based on their answers to our questions. The trick is thinking of the best questions to narrow down possibilities as efficiently as possible.

Classes around the world have been participating in these mystery events recently, using either Skype or Google Hangouts, and the activity works for all age levels. See the list at the end of this posting for some resource links. And, of course, our event was conducted entirely in Spanish. Our students found the fast pace exciting and challenging, as they had to use their critical thinking skills and come up with fast questions based on the previous answers. They were also proud to be the winners! We now look forward to receiving comments on their blogs from Sra. Díaz-Ross’s class. Unfortunately, I forgot to start the recording at the beginning of the session, but recorded a bit of the end of the hangout. You can see that below, along with some photos and short video clips taken by the videographers:


Student Videographer recordings:

End of hangout recording:

Here are some resource links:

Skype in the Classroom

Google+ Community for Mystery Hangouts

Google+ Community for Mystery Hangouts for Foreign Language Teachers

Nov. 3 – 14 at the MCHS Library

As always, we had lots of classes and lessons in the library during the last two weeks.

Mr. Brown’s Blogging Project


I am delighted that Mr. Brown is having all of his English students (grades 10 and 12) start individual blogs, and the five classes came to the library for two days to get them started. Blogging is a wonderful tool that allows students to practice writing skills and find their writing voices, reflect on and share about personal interests, build a positive digital footprint, and learn about and practice all the aspects of digital citizenship. Along with discussing what a blog is and the benefits of blogging, I taught lessons in different aspects of digital citizenship they will need to be aware of as they blog, and I helped them set their blogs up using Google’s blogging software. Here are some of the short films we watched as part of our class discussions on their first day in the library:

This film launched a discussion about what digital citizenship is, and how it doesn’t mean just being cautious online and staying safe; it also offers wonderful opportunities for making global connections.

We watched this film and talked about building a positive digital footprint:

We watched this film, and talked about protecting privacy and being careful about what you post in blogs and any other form of online communication to protect your own privacy and that of your friends and relatives from potential predators and to avoid sharing anything you would be less than proud of later:

We also talked about how online communication lacks tone of voice and body language clues present in the live world, meaning students need to take extra care to avoid accidentally insulting someone in their posts or their comments. We watched this film as a reminder to avoid engaging in any behavior that could be construed as bullying another person:

On the second day in the library, I showed the students how to set up their blogs and what to include in their first posting. You can see the directions I shared with them for reference here.

We also watched this film about Plagiarism, Copyright, Public Domain, Fair Use, and Creative Commons, all important concepts for students to understand for blogging as well as all their writing and other creations on and offline:

Along with the film, we viewed and discussed the court case related to the famous Obama Hope poster, as an example of fair use/copyright disputes. I shared that justifying Fair Use in published works like blogs can be very difficult, and that we are very fortunate to have many options for finding copyright-friendly images and other material to include in the students’ blogs. I demonstrated how to find Creative Commons-licensed images using the and Google Image Advanced Search options. You can see screencasts of the techniques I demoed for both of these sites on the directions page.

I was very excited to launch this project for Mr. Brown’s students, and look forward to working with them on it throughout the year. As the next step, once they write their first posts, they will then read their classmates’ postings and practice writing good comments. As we discussed, one of the big benefits of blogging is the ability to engage in conversations both with classmates and even globally with the commenting feature.

Other Lessons and Class Visits

I provided introductions to research project lessons for Ms. Parks AP Art History class and Ms. Mullen’s 12th Grade English class, worked with Adam Geczi’s World History classes on identifying the bibliographic information for citations and using to assist with saving and formatting the citations, and introduced a new blog post assignment about La Llorona for Sra. Rossell’s AP Spanish Literature class. The library also hosted class visits for Ms. Bledsoe and Mr. Oystrick’s science classes, and I consulted with Ms. Nielsen on a project for her AP Chemistry students.

SWVBC – We Were Liars Discussion

Our Library Club again served as the moderators for our monthly Somewhat Virtual Book Club (#SWVC on Twitter) discussion on November 5. This month’s book was We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I am very proud of our group of students who moderated, and they received kudos from the librarians in the other participating schools. Here’s our recording of the Google Hangout:

Our next SWVBC discussion will be on December 3 at 3 PM Pacific Time. We will be discussing Butter by Erin Jade Lange, a riveting contemporary realistic fiction book about a morbidly obese, outcast teenager who suddenly becomes popular when he creates a website advertising his plans to commit suicide. All Costa students are invited to join us for the discussion in the library lunchroom. Please come by the library to borrow a copy of the book and get more information about the discussion event. For a preview of Butter, please watch this engaging book trailer by Cathy Jo Nelson, the librarian at Dorman High School in South Carolina, one of our SWVBC school libraries:

Dorman High School will be hosting and moderating the December 3 book discussion.

Geeks – Planning Costa’s Hour of Code Participation

Our Geeks club, which offers tech support to Mira Costa students and parents, met this week and learned about the upcoming Hour of Code international event December 8 – 14. from Jeanne Reed, a technology consultant at the MBUSD District Office. The club enthusiastically agreed to work as facilitators and promoters for this event in partnership with the Girls Only Coding Club. Mr. Braskin, computer teacher and advisor of the Girls Only Coding Club, and I will serve as advisors for Mira Costa’s participation in the Hour of Code week. All of the schools in our district will also be participating. Stand by for more information about this event very soon.

2012-2013 Year in Review

Please enjoy this short video, made with a fun tool called PowToon, with highlights of the 2013-2014 year in the library. Click the icon at the bottom right to view it in full-screen for better visibility: (If you are on a mobile device, this Flash file may not load. Get the Puffin Browser to enable Flash on your iPad, iPhone, or other mobile device.)

I love PowToon as a video-making tool, but it doesn’t allow for embedding live links in the videos. Here are links to more information on some of the topics in the video:

Geek Squad

Calculus Assignment | Calculus Student Work

Disease Project Pathfinder | Student Work Examples

Self-Paced Plagiarism & Copyright Lesson 

MackinVIA ebooks

Digital Literacy Family Night

Mrs. Lofton’s Recent Presentations

California School Library Association

Flickr page for photos of student art and more

Free Family Digital Literacy Night

Please join us in the Mira Costa Library on Thursday evening, May 23, for a Family Digital Literacy Night. Jane Lofton, Mira Costa High Teacher Librarian, will be sharing information with parents and students.

 Family Digital Literacy Night Flyer

Link to Flyer

The evening, which is appropriate for students from all grades, will include discussion of digital literacy topics, including:

  • BALANCE — Maintaining a healthy balance between work and play, online and offline activities.
  • ETHICAL USE — Helping kids understand the consequences of ethical choices they make online.
  • PRIVACY — Protecting personal information and maintaining privacy.
  • RELATIONSHIPS — Engaging in safe and healthy relationship with technology as a tool.
  • REPUTATION — A positive online reputation that will contribute to future success.
  • ONLINE SECURITY — Good habits for securing hardware and software.
The evening will also include a free pizza dinner, sponsored by Verizon.

Please contact Jane Lofton with any questions, and RSVP by May 20 using this form link.