Tag: June 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

Professional Learning: July 2021

Professional Learning Opportunities July 2021

Well, we made it through the first semester of the year. I hope everyone is enjoying their school holiday break. If you have a chance to put your feet up, take a look at some of these professional learning opportunities for July 2021. Some of them are time sensitive, others are just what has come to my attention this month. Some are a quick read, watch or listen. Others are bigger time investments. I hope this list is helpful for you. The links are mostly for school librarians or the school library setting, but many are transferable to any library or education setting.

Looking for more resources? Check out my Professional Learning Series.  

Last month's Professional Learning list.

Most of the opportunities below are free and easily accessibly by following the links, others are require a fee.  If you have any suggestions or links, I'd love to hear from you. Comment below or contact me here. 

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Publications and Websites

Issue 3 of the STEM ED magazine is available now. If you haven't seen this magazine before, check out Issues 1 and 2. A great range of STEM ideas for the classroom.

School Libraries are the Only Thing that Matters. This article has been making waves. If you haven't seen it, check it out. Interesting reading.

And here is the research that sparked the article. Predictors of Reading Ability among ten-year-olds.

School Librarians as Literacy Educators Within a Complex Role by Margaret K. Merga. Read it online for free.

Teacher Librarian as Leader: Lessons from the Literature article from Kay Oddone on Linking Learning.

While this is a sponsored post via EdSurge, this Infographic about preparing students for the future with interactive 3D has some great ideas and resources.

An interview with two researchers about their research into the decline of school librarians in the US. 

The Power of School Librarians blog post from Elizabeth Hutchinson. 

Book week judge review Australian non-fiction books

Is non-fiction dead? Insights from a Book Week Judge. A great article about the importance of non-fiction from Narissa Leung on her blog OzLitTeacher.

Beautiful Nooks for More Than Books. A great post from the Melbourne Girls Grammar team.

You might have heard about #OwnVoices. Now the We Need Diverse Books team has decided to not use this term anymore. Find out why in their post. 

Don't Dream it's over; or, A return to cataloguing. A great personal reflection from Alissa on her blog Lissertations Cataloguing the Universe about changing workplaces and the important of updating our library systems to reflect good practice and change racist and problematic practices.

A Day in the Life of a Library Technician. So great to step into the lives of our school library staff. Thanks to Softlink for sharing this.

Love this idea from @cw_athome

The ultimate list of helpful articles for school library professionals from Margaret Merga. You may have heard about this amazing list that Merga has gifted to school librarians. Check it out. Recent (2019-2021) peer-reviewed articles relevant for school library professionals and where to get them for free. 

Does Your School Library Need A Literacy Check-up? From Cult of Pedagogy. This has sparked some great discussion at our school and renewed support for our library.

Webinars, Videos and Podcasts

Which World Is Yours? Navigating the CBCA 2021 Shortlist with Dr Jennie Bales via EduWebinar. 21 July 2021. $30 for non-members.

Dear School Leaders: Why every school deserves a full-time, certified school librarian with K.C. Boyd, Courtney Pentland and Amanda Jones. Live July 7 2am AEST, but watch the recording afterwards on YouTube.


Your Kid's Next Read Podcast with Megan Daley and Allison Tait. You may have seen Megan's live videos or heard of the massive Facebook group of the same name. Check out the latest venture by this amazing team.

The Library Pros Podcast. A podcast I have just discovered. I really enjoyed Episode 86 with Matt Pascoe about the thinking behind Ipswich's new public libraries.

ASLA July Webinar 2021 - Why Representation Matters: The importance of family diversity in Australian children's picture books. 7th July, 2021. $20 members, $40 non-members.

Overcoming Isolation and Building Our PLN podcast with School Librarians United.

Join the Summer Book Club from the Future Ready Librarians. The group is reading Leading From The Library, which you can buy online or find at your local state library. The group has regular webinar meetings to discuss different aspects of the book.

Two social media channels to follow

Are you following @eduwebinar Not only will you get links to the latest webinars happening on the EduWebinar platform, but Karen shares links to some incredible resources and PD events.

Want to see picture of giant cardboard dinosaurs being installed in a children's library? Check out Matt Pascoe's Twitter account @Library_Matt. He is the Content and Experience Director at the Ipswich Public Libraries. They have recently gone under massive rebuilds, so Matt shares some incredible pictures and ideas.

Book Review: The Heart’s Charge

The Heart’s Charge – Karen Witemeyer – Hanger’s Horsemen #2 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 1 June 2021




Members of Hanger’s Horsemen, Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks arrive in Llano County, Texas, to deliver a steed, never expecting they’d deliver a baby as well. Left with an infant to care for, they head to a nearby foundling home, where Mark encounters the woman he’d nearly married a decade ago.

After failing at love, Katherine Palmer dedicated her life to caring for children, teaming up with Eliza Southerland to start Harmony House. From mixed ancestry, illegitimate, and female, Eliza understands the pain of not fitting society’s mold. Yet those are the very attributes that lead her to minister to outcast children. The taciturn Jonah intrigues her with his courage and kindness, but there are secrets behind his eyes–ghosts from wars past and others still being waged.

However, when a handful of urchin children from the area go missing, a pair of Horsemen are exactly what the women need. Working together to find the children, will these two couples find love as well?

My thoughts

It is impossible to resist Karen Witemeyer’s writing. Once again she absorbed me into this story of adventure, romance, strong female characters and the men of integrity who love them.

The Heart’s Charge provides us two stories in one. We readers first met the Hanger’s Horsemen in the first book in the series and in this second book we join up with two members of the group, Mark and Jonah. Together, Mark and Jonah stumble upon a pregnant woman in labour. They, reluctantly, assist in the birth and find themselves responsible for the care of the young infant. This then leads them to Harmony House, a place where children of any race or background can find a home. A surprise awaits them both. Mark finds the woman he once wanted to marry and who broke his heart. Jonah finds a strong and resilient Eliza who might just be the one woman who can work her way past his tough exterior.

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Book Review: Daughter of Sparta

Daughter of Sparta – Claire M. Andrews – Daughter of Sparta #1 – Jimmy Patterson Books – Published 8 June 2021




Seventeen-year-old Daphne has spent her entire life honing her body and mind into that of a warrior, hoping to be accepted by the unyielding people of ancient Sparta. But an unexpected encounter with the goddess Artemis—who holds Daphne’s brother’s fate in her hands—upends the life she’s worked so hard to build. Nine mysterious items have been stolen from Mount Olympus and if Daphne cannot find them, the gods’ waning powers will fade away, the mortal world will descend into chaos, and her brother’s life will be forfeit.

Guided by Artemis’s twin-the handsome and entirely-too-self-assured god Apollo-Daphne’s journey will take her from the labyrinth of the Minotaur to the riddle-spinning Sphinx of Thebes, team her up with mythological legends such as Theseus and Hippolyta of the Amazons, and pit her against the gods themselves.

My thoughts

For every reader who loved Percy Jackson or Greek Mythology, Daughter of Sparta is the book for you. I get so many requests in my school library for books that feature mythology, especially Greek mythology. Daughter of Sparta is a thrilling adventure. It is fresh yet fans of the mythological legends will recognise some familiar characters and quests.

There is so much in this story. The author could have used just one legend to inspire the story but we have multiple, with multiple gods, creatures and challenges that Daphne must face. It makes this book endlessly engaging and there is never a dull moment. I did find it a little confusing to keep track of all the characters, but having the familiar Greek gods and characters was helpful.

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Professional Learning: June 2021

Professional Learning Opportunities June 2021

Here is my list of professional learning opportunities for June 2021. Some of them are time sensitive, others are just what has come to my attention this month. It’s a way to help me keep track of things that I find or that are recommended to me. They mostly are for school librarians or the school library setting, but many are transferable to any library or education setting.

Looking for more resources? Check out my Professional Learning Series.  

Last month’s Professional Learning list.

Most of the opportunities below are free and easily accessibly by following the links, others are require a fee.  If you have any suggestions or links, I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or contact me here. 

Publications and Websites

Personal Branding Strategy: A Roadmap for Professionals, Experts and Executives. Article with free ebook download.  Branding and promotions are so much a vital part of a librarian’s role now, and this is a helpful resource. Free.

The library as “third space” in your school by Lori Korodaj, SCAN, Vol 38, 2019. I’ve been revisiting Lori’s work, which is always inspiring. Free

The 2020 Australian and New Zealand School Library Survey Report. From Softlink. Free.

Intuition and evidence: how I built a thriving school culture from the ground up by Adam Voigt, April 2021. I’ve been looking at building reading cultures and came across this interesting article. More at a school level. EducationHQ subscription required.

Library Blogs are the best. Super Library Marketing. April 2021. Free

The Tech Landscape and Libraries – 2021. Princh blog with guest post by Nick Tanzi. Libraries are often at the forefront of technology uptake. This is an interesting article about some of the challenges with integrating digital technology, some benefits and some of the new technology that might be of interest to you. Free

Ditching Dewey. Two articles from Don’t Shush Me about the flaws with the Dewey system and how this school librarian has restructured her school library to be more inclusive. Free

5 Steps to Create a Library Insta Your Students Will Love to Follow. Another fantastic resource from Don’t Shush Me. Free


Conferences, Courses, Webinars, Podcasts and Meet Ups

National Education Summit. It’s not too late to sign up for the National Education Summit in Bribane that runs from the 4th and 5th of June. If you can’t make that, put the Melbourne Summit in your calendar for August.  There is a fee involved and this event is face-to-face. Find out more here. 

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Book Review: Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades – Faridah Abike-Iyimide – Feiwel Friends – Published 1 June 2021




When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

My thoughts

Ace of Spades is heartbreakingly devastatingly yet as I was reading I knew that this is the reality for so many people and young people. It is thrilling, twisty and kept me guess right up until the last page. My main concern was how on earth the author could give me a satisfactory ending that was still realistic and boy, did Faridah deliver. Absolutely superb.

I was on the edge of my seat while reading this and often had my head in my hands and heart in my mouth. All the emotions and all the feels. Honestly, it wasn’t an easy book to read but oh my gosh it is such a powerful and reflective book of our current political and social landscapes.

Ace of Spades is a thriller, a mystery and realistic novel all in one. It’s #Diverse #OwnVoices #ReadWoke and every other on trend hashtag you could want. It’s gut punching and shows just how much resilience and strength it requires for people to survive in a society that seeks to destroy them. Ace of Spades is a debut novel and my gosh it is impressive.

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Book Review: Kind of Sort of Fine

Kind of Sort of Fine – Spencer Hall – Atheneum Books for Young Readers – Published 22 June 2021




Senior year of high school is full of changes.

For Hayley Mills, these changes aren’t exactly welcome. All she wants is for everyone to forget about her very public breakdown and remember her as the overachiever she once was—and who she’s determined to be again. But it’s difficult to be seen as a go-getter when she’s forced into TV Production class with all the slackers like Lewis Holbrook.

For Lewis, though, this is going to be his year. After a summer spent binging 80s movies, he’s ready to upgrade from the role of self-described fat, funny sidekick to leading man of his own life—including getting the girl. The only thing standing in his way is, well, himself.

When the two are partnered up in class, neither is particularly thrilled. But then they start making mini documentaries about their classmates’ hidden talents, and suddenly Hayley is getting attention for something other than her breakdown, and Lewis isn’t just a background character anymore. It seems like they’re both finally getting what they want—except what happens when who you’ve become isn’t who you really are?

My thoughts

A story about surviving high school, with humour, honesty and a delightful freshness.

High school is tough – especially when you had a meltdown in front of the entire school and district. For Hayley, returning to school after she had a public breakdown in the school driveway is hard enough. When her parents and teachers decide that she is working too hard, she has to make a choice – drop tennis or drop her advanced placement courses. She drops tennis and is forced into TV production. She thinks it will be a joke. Instead, she is surprised to find herself having fun. She is teamed up with Lewis. For Lewis, senior year is the year he is finally senior producer at the school’s TV production class. It’s also going to be the year he recasts himself. No longer just the fat guy, Lewis has big plans.

When Hayley and Lewis are teamed up in TV production class, they seem like two opposites. Instead, they work really well together and they start to film documentaries that showcase the secret lives of their fellow students. It’s a bit of a journey of discovery for them both. Not only do they learn more about their classmates then they ever would have imagined, they also pushed themselves in new ways – physically and mentally and learnt more about themselves.

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Book Review: The Passing Playbook

The Passing Playbook – Isaac Fitzsimons – Dial – Published 1 June 2021




Fifteen-year-old Spencer Harris is a proud nerd, an awesome big brother and a Messi-in-training. He’s also transgender. After transitioning at his old school leads to a year of bullying, Spencer gets a fresh start at Oakley, the most liberal private school in Ohio.

At Oakley, Spencer seems to have it all: more accepting classmates, a decent shot at a starting position on the boy’s soccer team, great new friends, and maybe even something more than friendship with one of his teammates. The problem is, no one at Oakley knows Spencer is trans – he’s passing.

So when a discriminatory law forces Spencer’s coach to bench him after he discovers the ‘F’ on Spencer’s birth certificate, Spencer has to make a choice: cheer his team on from the sidelines or publicly fight for his right to play, even if it means coming out to everyone – including the guy he’s falling for.

My thoughts

A story about sport, friendship, romance and becoming comfortable with sharing who you are. The Passing Playbook is a trans coming out story but also about belonging and accepting yourself

Spencer is starting at a new school. It’s a fresh start and one he wants to control. He decides to keep secret the fact that he is trans. When he is recruited for the boy’s soccer team, Spencer knows he walks a fine line between passing and being revealed as trans. When the league’s discriminatory policy benches Spencer he has to decide how much he trusts his team mates and how much he is willing to risk to fight the decision.

Sports stories offer such a great backdrop for relationship and character development. It seems to bring out the best and worst in people. As Spencer starts to settle into his new school and tries out for the soccer team he has to decide how much he will risk to protect his new friendships and place on the team. He loves soccer, always has, so he relishes the chance to play on the boys team – something he has always wanted to do.

While Spencer’s school is meant to be pretty liberal and progressive, he is still uncertain how, if or when he wants to come out as trans to his classmates. As he starts to get to know Justice and develops a friendship (and something) with him, he starts to learn more about the risks Justice faces if he were to ever reveal his own true identity.

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Book Review: We Are Inevitable

We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman<br /> CR: Simon &amp; Schuster

We Are Inevitable – Gayle Forman – Penguin Teen – Published 1 June 2021




So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein.

While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.

And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for?

My thoughts

What does a failing bookshop, a group of lumberjacks and a grieving teen have to do with each other? If Aaron had his way, absolutely nothing, but in this funny, heartening novel together they have the power to change everything.

Aaron doesn’t know what his future holds and he is still reeling from his past. His mother has left, his brother is dead and his father seems to be ailing more and more each day. Aaron knows the bookshop that was once his parents’ whole world is struggling. If he had his way, he would sell it and finally be able to move on with his life. Just as Aaron is ready to sell a range of new people enter his life and seem determined to do everything they can to bring the bookshop back to life.

As a reader, it’s no surprise that I love bookshops and I know many other readers feel the same way. Bluebird Books plays a big role in this book. It’s the perfect setting for this story, falling apart, disorganised but has so much charm and love woven into its very fabric – exactly like the story of awe Are Inevitable itself.

The characters are so vibrant in this book, just as they are varied. First there is Aaron. Grieving, worried about his father and the bookshop, left behind by his classmates and floundering a bit. He is described by another character in the book as an unreliable narrator. Just as my heart hurt from him he frustrated me a little as he is so persistent in pushing others away from him and being so distrustful. We see the story from his point of view, but it’s still easy to see how his hurt rules his decisions.

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Book Review: This Poison Heart

This Poison Heart – Kalynn Bayron – This Poison Heart #1 – Bloomsbury YA – Published 29 June 2021




Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

My thoughts

This Poison Heart starts with a magical realism vibe but by halfway becomes a thoroughly fun paranormal title with myths, eternal creatures with super speed and strength, and centuries-old feuds. I love books about plants and gardens. I love the vibe they give to books and This Poison Heart brings with it that same plant and garden goodness I adore, with the added benefit that Briseis can control the plants around her – or sort of. She has long hidden her gift and isn’t sure how to master it when she fears it and what it can do.

When Briseis and her mothers receive news that Briseis has been left an estate as an inheritance by her birth family, they think it might be the thing to save their struggling finances. Moving to the country also gives Briseis the first chance to really stretch her powers of controlling plants. Away from the city, she discovers that her birth family have a strange affinity with plants, especially poisonous ones. As Briseis revives the gardens that surround the estate, she begins to learn there is far more to her powers and far more to the secrets that surround her family’s history.

There is a lot to like about This Poison Heart. It kind of felt like two books joined together. The first half is focused on getting to know Briseis, her two mothers, their florist business and their struggling finances. The inheritance is a welcome reprieve for them, as is the move to the country. The banter between Briseis and her mothers is lots of fun, as is the banter the two older women share. They are full on mother-embarrassing, which Briseis pretends to hate but really loves. The move also allows Briseis to experiment with her powers, bringing the garden back to life, learning about the apothecary business her aunt and birth mother were running. She also meets Carter, who works at the bookshop in town and she finally makes a friend who knows the extent of her magical powers and doesn’t shun her for them.

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Book Review: Fire With Fire

Fire With Fire – Destiny Soria – HMH Books for Young Readers – Published 8 June 2021




Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

My thoughts

I do love a good dragon book and this one is unique, taking us away from the traditional fantasy world and into a very familiar landscape of high school, modern society and dragons, of course. Most people don’t think dragons exist – why would they?, but Eden and Dani know the truth. They have been raised as the next generation of dragon hunters. Taught by their parents, legendary slayers in their own right, to keep humans safe from the furious beasts.

When Dani discovers a dragon close to home and becomes soul bonded with it, everything she ever knew or was taught about dragons is challenged. Nox is powerful and can breath fire, with a deadly tail, but he doesn’t wish to harm anyone. Instead, he protects the dragon eggs entrusted to him and wants Dani’s help to hatch and raise them. Dani is torn between her old and new worlds and has no idea how to tell her parents. Eden is Dani’s elder sister. She trained Dani and only wishes it was she that people referred to as destined to be the greatest slayer. Instead, her dedication to the craft is unrecognised and her skills surpasses by the uninterested Dani. When The High Sorcerer enlists Eden’s help she is flattered and wants to use the opportunity to show everyone that she has what it takes to be the best slayer.

Written in alternating chapters, we readers get to see this story from both Eden and Dani’s perspective. They are both equally likeable as much as they are flawed and make some really silly mistakes. They are teens in a world of dragons and magic and choices that mean life or death. I found myself rooting for first one sister and then the other and then switching again. It’s easy to judge Eden’s choices yet harder to know see how easy it is for her to by lured by the promises she is made. Same with Dani, she makes some obvious mistakes trusting the wrong people and then not trusting those allied to her – like Nox, she’s rather mean to him I think – but this is so true to her character and upbringing and it makes both Dani and Eden genuine and authentic teen characters, trying to figure out school (high school for Dani, online college for Eden), friendships, romantic relationships and getting along as sisters – or at least not betraying, capturing and killing each other (though a far big of that does happen).

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