Author Visit – Varian Johnson

Lawrence School just received some awesome news, author Varian Johnson is going to be visiting the library on February 3rd! He’ll be speaking about his book, The Great Greene Heist, and its upcoming sequel, To Catch a Cheat. Varian is a big proponent of the “we need diverse books” movement, and it shows, as his books feature characters from all different backgrounds. When we get back from break we’ll be discussing this awesome opportunity more, but I wanted to alert everyone beforehand! Happy holidays!

Pictures from Varian Johnson’s website (link above)


As a means to offer the students more than just books and research help, the Lawrence LMC is working to provide connections to the STEM curriculum as well. One way is to allow students the opportunity to try their hand at coding. May I present, Sphero, the robotic ball:


Sphero is an app-enabled ball that allows students to code as a means to make Sphero do what they want, such as drive through a maze. Students are able to have fun, but are also learning key STEM principles. Our Sphero has been given the name Chuck Lawrence. We are all very fond of Chuck so far, and have spent the past 2 weeks learning how Chuck works, and how we can use the different apps that are associated with Sphero.

Today we learned how the Sphero can do the Hokey Pokey. I must say, he is pretty good at it! We also took him for a spin around the library (without hitting any obstacles), which is harder than it looks! Watch the video below:



This past week Ms. Liles’ 8th grade students worked feverishly in the library to start AND finish a research project that revolved around allusions/references in the book, The House on Mango Street. Students were tasked with selecting a topic (from a given list), depicting 3 symbols that would help to identify their topic, 2 depictions in art, and a story about the topic, which would all be presented in a poster format. Between research throughout the week, I was able to help the students develop an understanding of what constitutes plagiarism and how to cite sources accurately. Citing sources is still a work in progress, and throughout the next few months we hope to get the students more familiar and comfortable with the process.

I worried about confusing the students with the concept of plagiarism, but I found that while, yes, it confusing and can be difficult to comprehend, I also found that they were genuinely interested in the idea. I fielded many thought-provoking questions from the students, and many have come back after class to seek more information. Most of the students agreed to having plagiarized before because they just didn’t understand the concept.

Some topics students wanted more information on:

  • Retweeting on Twitter
  • Citing an image from the Internet
  • Copying from a friend’s worksheet
  • The idea of using another’s ideas and what is the difference between copying and plagiarism (is there a difference, are they the same?)
  • Common knowledge and what/when to cite sources
  • Wikipedia
  • Academic consequences
  • Paraphrasing is still considered plagiarism if you don’t cite the source. The idea that copying/pasting AND paraphrasing can be considered plagiarism is the most difficult to comprehend.

credible hulk

And, let’s not forgot about the Credible Hulk from The Classics Library. He always cites his sources.


Are you a Greaser or a Soc?

All 7th graders at Lawrence read The Outsiders. Here’s a secret, I have never read it, but the students love it so much I almost feel like I have read it at this point! Before Thanksgiving break, the 7th graders were given the option to dress up as a Greaser or Soc. The halls were filled with jean jackets, slicked back hair, and poodle skirts and cardigans. Book Club decided, since they would already be dressed up, why not shoot a small video for The Outsiders? I thought it was an awesome idea!

At my old public library, the Teen Advisory Group I ran had the idea to create short videos (and by short, I mean only 6 seconds) that would provide a quick plot overview of the required reading books at the high school. I loved this idea, because they were forced to break down a book into the main plot points, and the students were able to get a bit creative with it. I told the Lawrence Book Club about this, and they loved they idea, so we decided to try our hand with The Outsiders. Filming a video in only 7-seconds is definitely a challenge, but Book Club took on the challenge and the video was created in a mere 15 minutes! Enjoy!