Howard County Library
Teacher Notes From Howard County Library - English Category
  • Still Time to Enter Word Up!

    word up logo - teen poetry contestNew Word Up! Poetry Contest entries arrive every day!

    If your students are in need of a little inspiration, why not invite us to your classroom to lead Writers Camp.  We’ll review the contest rules and judging rubric, then lead a writing exercise to point students along the path to poetry.

    If you’re more of a do-it-yourself-er, download the Word Up! Educator Resource Brochure for contest details and writing exercises you can lead in your own classroom. The deadline to submit poetry is March 16.

    Word Up! is sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library.

    Katie George, Administration Office

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  • Where’s Greg?

    image of a cutout of wimpy kid characterGreg has been spotted many new places since the release of his latest book, The Ugly Truth.

    At Elkridge Landing Middle School (ELMS) he visited one of HCL’s newest Media Specialists, Ms. Kimberly Sheibley. At ELMS, she’s been connecting teachers with her HCL liaison on numerous assignments, and had a small display of fliers in her Media Center about upcoming events at HCL. Thanks for your support Ms. Sheibley and Mrs. Thomas.

    Greg stopped by Bonnie Branch Middle School  in the middle of their computer upgrade. Even in the midst of this major undertaking, Mr. Yeargin made time to chat with his branch liaison about new books  and upcoming assignments. Thank you, Mr. Yeargin and Ms. Wendt for your flexibility and superb communication.

    Would you like Greg to visit your school? Drop a note to your HCL liaison, or put it in the notes section of your A+ Assignment Alert. Greg would love to visit your school next!

    Sarah N. Russo – Elkridge Branch

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  • Word Up! Begins Today

    word up logo - teen poetry contestPaper

    A piece of paper
    So beautiful yet so alone
    Those crisp clean lines
    Jump at the thought of words
    But yearn to keep the secrets
    Of anyone who wishes to share them
    Like fresh white snow beckoning to a child
    It waits Sometimes for forever in a lost drawer
    But it waits
    For the words of intense thought
    That needs to be written down
    It waits –Nicki Mallon, Atholton High School (2010 Honorable Mention Word Up! poet)

    Word Up! begins today!  If your students have crisp, clean pages that are just waiting, why not encourage them to fill those pages with poetry and submit those poems to the 2011 Word Up! poetry contest. Word Up! is open to all Howard County students in grades 6 through 12. Cash prizes are awarded for first, second, and third place in three age groups.  Winners are invited to read their poems at a special event in the spring.

    Poems may be submitted electronically at Download the Word Up! Educator Resource Brochure or request a session of Writer’s Camp in your very own classroom. Deadline to submit up to three entries is March 16. Word Up! is sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library.

    Katie George – Administration Office

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  • Teen Trivia Night

    image of green question marks

    Do your students have what it takes to be Howard County Library’s Teen Trivia Master? Do they know the exact date of Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington’s death, or which god or goddess was owed the first offering at every household sacrifice?

    Starting in December, Howard County Library’s Miller Branch is going to find out at its monthly Teen Trivia Night that challenges students to answer trivia questions about their favorite YA books and series. Each month’s winning teen will receive the title of Teen Trivia Master and a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

    Harry Potter Trivia – Wednesday December 8, 7-8 pm

    Rick Riordan Mythology Trivia – Wednesday January 12, 7-8 pm

    Hunger Games Trivia – Wednesday February 9, 7-8 pm

    Courtney GardinierMiller Branch

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  • How to Conquer the College Essay

    image of student trying to climb up a stack of filesHoward County Library presented Conquer the College Essay last Thursday.  Topics covered included:

    • What do those questions really mean?
    • What are admissions officers looking for?
    • How do I even start writing this thing?

    We thought we’d post those details, right here!

    The College Board’s web site has lots of succinct, well-organized information on decoding the questions, what answers admissions officers want to see, three easy steps to starting that essay, and time management. There are even two sample essays, with comments included, so students can see what recruiters are really thinking.

    For those students who want to read more samples, there are plenty of successful college essays out there. Teen Ink publishes real college essays written by real high school students. Connecticut College has posted quite a few essays written by students who have been accepted to that school…and graduated.

    Students can have a tutor review their work. Just log onto the Library’s Online Homework Assistance to upload an essay. A tutor will read the essay and return it with comments on how to make it a stronger, more organized argument, as well as corrections to spelling and grammar.

    And books. Don’t forget the books! We have tons of books on writing the essay and completing that college application.

    Good luck…and don’t forget to write!


    Katie George – Administration Offices

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  • Assignment Alert!

    image of explanation mark inside a red triangle

    So what, exactly, is an Assignment Alert?

    Is it broadcast on the police band radio? (nope)

    Is it a submarine command?  (A-OOGAH!  A-OOGAH!) (that’s just silly)

    It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with homework, could it? well …

    YES! It has everything to do with homework!  And our ability to ensure your students have everything they need to complete it successfully!

    When you assign a research project, book report, or any work that you suspect may land your students in the Library, you’re invited to visit our web site and complete an Assignment Alert. This online form is sent directly to the Research Specialist assigned to your school.

    In response, we may put related materials on display, call in additional resources from other branches, or prepare to offer instruction in the use of our electronic resources. We may contact you to confirm the assignment details or offer to visit your class to provide additional research instruction to your students.We may even be able to assist that one student who arrives at the Library remembering he had to research an African nation…but not which one or the questions he was supposed to answer.

    Every little bit helps – we love to help!  Visit –> Students and Teachers –> Teachers to assist us, so we can assist your students.

    Katie George – Administration Offices

    This Week’s Hi-Lights: Research E-Books

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  • Spelling Bee

    spelling bee logoHoward County Library invites students in grades 4 – 8 to participate in its seventh annual Spelling Bee, the winner of which advances to the National Bee in Washington, DC. All public, private and homeschool associations with students in appropriate grade levels can hold classroom and/or school bees between November 1 and January 31. Winners of those contests advance to the Howard County Library Spelling Bee held in March.

    Participation in a spelling bee fosters many skills:

    • Students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English. As a result, they read and write more effectively and score higher on standardized test and college prep tests and beyond. The impact lasts a lifetime.
    • Children learn the etymology of words, the country of origin, meanings of prefixes and suffixes, and spelling rules.
    • By studying words grouped in thematic categories, spellers not only acquire knowledge but also develop cognitive skills and increased understanding of ideas and values.
    • Students develop cultural and intellectual literacy.
    • Children of all ages, creeds, and races can participate on an equal, competitive basis.
    • Spelling bees improve spelling and spark interest among the students.
    • Spelling bees create friendly, sportsmanlike rivalry among the schools.


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  • Sherlock Holmes Essay Contest

    silhouette of sherlock holmesSherlock Holmes Essay Contest

    All seventh grade students in Howard County.

    Read the Sherlock Holmes story, “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” and write a five-paragraph analytical essay about it.

    It’s fun! It’s interesting! There are prizes awarded to the top three writers! Also, it enhances understanding of the mystery
    and suspense genres, and offers a chance to hone writing skills.

    All entries are due by June 1, 2011.

    More details and contest packets are available online.

    This contest is offered in partnership with Watson’s Tin Box and HCPSS.

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  • Word Up! Poetry Contest

    word up logo - teen poetry contestWalt Whitman wrote:

    What does it all mean poet?
    Well, Your brains beat into rhythm, you tell
    What we felt only; you express’d
    You hold thing beautiful the best
    and pace in them in rhythm so,
    side by side

    Do you know any budding Walt Whitmans? Do you encourage a love of word smithing and playing with language?

    Students in grades 6 – 12 can enter up to three original poems (no more than 60 lines each) in Howard County Library’s Word Up! Poetry Contest. A Word Up! Educators Resource brochure with writing exercises and other resources is available for teachers online.

    Poems are judged by a committee on their originality and language use, among other criteria. Deadline for entries is March 16. All winners will be invited to read their poems on April 28 and will receive cash awards, sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library.

    All winning poems are posted on the Library’s web site. Students may qualify for only one prize in each category.

    Category 1: Grades 6 & 7

    Category 2: Grades 8 & 9

    Category 3: Grades 10 – 12

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  • Conquer the College Essay

    image of college student frustrated

    What is more terrifying than a pop-quiz? More overwhelming than a term paper? More puzzling than the Sphinx? It’s the dreaded college essay that looms menacingly in the lives of college-bound seniors.

    Procrastinating pupils can eliminate the apprehension by attending Conquer the College Essay. Learn what schools really want to know they ask which famous historical figure you’d like to dine with or, given your choice, what animal you would be.  Examine successful sample essays to discover what attracts an admissions officer.  Then, students can stop putting it off until tomorrow and develop a strategy for committing their strengths to paper.

    Students can register for Conquer the College Essay on Thursday, October 21 at 7 pm at Howard County Library Miller Branch.

    Katie George – Administration Offices

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