Monday, June 25, 2018

Queer, There and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager and Zoe More O’Ferrall

Full disclosure: I received this book in conjunction with a meet-the-author event at Andrea Swenson’s amazing school library.  And I’m so glad I did because I think every school librarian serving high school students will want a copy of Prager’s chatty collective biography of queer history on their shelves.  Brief as they are, her twenty-two biographical chapters on twenty-three historical figures are intriguing and leave the reader wanting to know more.  Through the brief lives examined, the casual reader will start to grasp the bigger outlines of queer histories.  Prager’s considered and inclusive stance will aid younger readers in exploring multiple perspectives in a world wracked with adversarial and exclusionary politics.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Prager, Sarah and Zoe More O’Ferrall.  Queer, There and Everywhere:23 People Who Changed the World.  New York: HarperCollins, 2018.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Interdisciplinary Collaborations-- Hidden Figures

Interdisciplinary Hidden Figures Unit Leadership Team meets at the start of 2018 to co-plan at the Intrepid.
Ms. Chau supervises an NSD student bottle rocket launch after teaching students how to create their own rockets in February.

The books are ready to be distributed to every student at Belmont.

Ms. Ikawa leads "I Have, Who Has... in Ms. Ernyey's Advisory

At the Intrepid, students are challenged to complete simple tasks with gloves on to simulate the challenges faced by astronauts in outer space.

At MoMath in March!
Interdisciplinary Collaborations-- Hidden Figures

At the end of January we kicked off an interdisciplinary collaborative literacy initiative in advisory classes with two language learning activities to prepare students to engage with Hidden FiguresYounger Readers’ Edition.  Our school’s principal purchased a copy of this new paperback for each and every student and we had the fun job of partnering with advisors to distribute these gifts.  Students expressed satisfaction that they would be able to keep the books and were generally eager to begin reading them.

Ms. Ikawa, Speech-Language Pathologist, led students through a round of “I Have… Who Has” first, and then I introduced the terms associated with front matter and back matter.  We walked through the back matter together and concluded with a small competition to see who could utilize the index most efficiently.  Students did not want to stop looking things up at the end of the period.

Approximately one month later, the unit concluded with hands on learning experiences at the IntrepidMuseum (for placement students) and the National Museum of Mathematics (for detention students.)  We were so consumed with the work at hand--science, literacy, social studies were all involved-- we had little time left over to post, but here are a few photos of the highlights. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber, School Librarian, Belmont

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Being Human by William Wegman

Furthering the claim from neuroscientist Gregory Berns that “dogs are people too,” Being Human presents 276 portraits of Weimaraners by William Wegman, the famous photographer.  Students will find chapters like “People Like Us,” “Masquerade,” and “Disguise” more immediately appealing than those that are more abstract like “Physique,” and “Color Fields” or those that make cultural references that are likely unfamiliar like those in “Tales.”  Still, Being Human is perfect for browsers and an accessible invitation to photography and art-looking for readers new to the experience.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Programming Spotlight: Author Fred Aceves

Photo Credit: Ms. Jackson
Earlier today non-secure detention students at our Belmont site participated in a special author visit program with first-time novelist Fred Aceves.  Detention advisors and ELA teachers prepared students for the visit by leading readers through the beginning of The Closest I’ve Come.  Mr. Aceves, who was visiting NYC from Mexico this month, answered students questions about the book and his experiences as a writer.  We are grateful to Mr. Aceves for taking the time to meet with his fans, and to Literacy for Incarcerated Teens for generously sponsoring this library program.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Friday, March 23, 2018

Programming Spotlight: Author Gayle Forman Conducts Writing Workshops

Mr. Villaronga, ELA Teacher, students, and Gayle Forman 3/22/18

Gayle listens carefully while a student reads her writing aloud to the group.  Photos: JFS

Gayle Forman, writer of novels for young adults and local author with the international reputation, has been visiting with Passages Academy--Belmont’s Rose group once a month this school year.  She concluded another inspiring visit yesterday morning by giving each of the young women present a copy of her newest creative work, Pour Your Heart Out

A guided journal full of the undeniably engaging prompts she gives like gifts in her workshops, and accompanied by gorgeous illustrations, the girls were pretty excited to receive them. Honestly, they were even more excited to write with Gayle, who also read aloud from her new novel. I cannot wait to read it when it comes out later this week. Pre-ordering now. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Brazen: Rebel Ladies who rocked the world by Penelope Bagieu

Students who are hungry to read more comics and curious to learn more about amazing historical figures from around the world will be eager to get their hands on this collective biography and graphic novel translated from the French.  What’s most notable about this title, beyond its gorgeous colors and fast pacing, are the women included; Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth and Marian Anderson make way for Nzinga, Lars Mariposas, Josephine Baker, Temple Grandin and Betty Davis.  Also included are Mae Jemison, and Sonita Alizadeh.  Each 8-panel biography is followed by a full-bleed artistic two-page spread and Bagieu’s diverse French sensibilities shine through everywhere, including a more European embrace of female sexuality.  Back matter includes an author’s bio told in two panels and a list of thirty additional names of women who “rocked the world.”  Educators may consider pressing these two items into service to engage students in inquiry projects and as a model for drafting their own bio of their future self.  It is worth mentioning that as sensitive as the writer is at handling topics of abuse and poverty, they are included and undeniably relayed from the author’s point of view. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Bagieu, Penelope.  Brazen: Rebel ladies who rocked the world.  New York: First Second Publishing, 2018. Print.