Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I am about to embark on my final day of #ISTE2015 and I'm having that feeling where concurrently my brain is full AND I want to do allofthethings.  Right now.  Some things that have been bouncing around my brain since before ISTE and continue to bounce like crazy molecules are:

  • Maker Spaces/Genius Hour/ Breaker Spaces
  • Genius Hour
  • Green Screening (DoInk)
  • Book Trailers/Book Talks Using Green Screen
  • QR Codes Everywhere
  • Signage in the Library
  • PD for Teachers
    • Ted Talks For Teachers
    • Bytes, Books, and Bites
  • Book Clubs for Students
  • Book Clubs for Teachers
  • Google Chrome Extensions and Add Ons
  • Library Like a Pirate
I have attended some awesome sessions, gleaned great ideas at poster sessions and connected with some amazing educators, leaders and teacher-librarians.  Yesterday, at a Birds of a Feather session, I connected with a TL in MD and we are planning to do sessions at our respective state library conferences on sneaking in some teacher PD.  I am so excited for this collaboration across state lines.  Any other TL's want to join us?  Should be fun, plus many hands make light the work.  We can model super-sharing!

Are you at #ISTE2015 or even #NotAtIste?  What is bouncing around your brain?  Ain't summer grand?

Monday, June 22, 2015


As a grad student ( grad student, but that's getting a little too detail oriented) completing course work towards my school library media specialist certification, several of my courses included observation components which were, perhaps, THE most useful observations I completed.  As a school teacher, we perhaps assume we know what the other teachers do.  We drop off our class at art, so we know what the art teacher does.  Much as many people who have been to school assume they know what a teacher "does", I made the same naive mistake thinking I know what a school librarian does.  But, there is more.  So much more.  Or rather, there can be.  In fact, as a teacher librarian there are nearly limitless possibilities for awesome.  And I try to embrace those opportunities.  But back to the point.  I had the opportunity to observe AWESOME teacher librarians who had crafted engaging lessons.  I happened to visit a school librarian on the very same day that the school was celebrating "Talk Like a Pirate Day."  I watched as the librarian seamlessly integrated the theme into her lessons, complete with double sided hooks for students to respond if a book was fiction or nonfiction.  A simple "hook" but it definitely hooked the kids.  And that is what is most important.

As a frequenter of the twitters, one day, I stumbled upon the hashtag #tlap.  I had no idea what that meant but was intrigued by my pln (professional learning network) who were clearly ALL IN.  So I researched.  eg I googled.  And discovered that #tlap stood for Teach Like A Pirate.  Sounds good to me.  

As a pirate teacher, I consistently steal booty from other awesome teachers.  And I encourage others to steal from me too.  Hopefully, it is understood that the "booty" here is really ideas.  I continue to observe other great teacher librarians, both by getting off my island and onto theirs, collaborating at conferences or virtually and poking around Pinterest and Twitter digging for treasure.  And I am always on the lookout for ways to connect teachers in my own building with great ideas from the experts.  The experts here are generally our fellow colleagues.  So, to answer the challenge.  How have I led like a pirate.  Hopefully, by example.  I don't think of pirates as a smiley bunch, but a smile can go a long way.  A smile for a student, a colleague, a leader.  It sends the message that it is going to be ok.  That we can weather any storm that comes our way.  Extra bonus challenge points for including as many pirate cliches as possible.  Think about how to teach like a pirate, learn like a pirate, and lead like a pirate.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Our first ISSUU of Pine Road Library Letter

I'm feeling a little ridiculously proud of this right now...

That is all.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I first listened to “Josephine” on audiobook and then took a gander at the illustrations.  The text as read to me was fabulous but the illustrations truly knocked my socks off.  I think Josephine would like that.  Throughout her early years and out on the road making her own way, Jospehine seems so resilient.  And yet, as she aged and her popularity declined, it seems she was unable to manage what money she had.  Or maybe she was surrounded by people who never advised her to stop spending as if there was no tomorrow.  Regardless of those types of details, the life of Josephine Baker is fascinating.  From her diamond collared leopard to her days spent as a spy during World War II to her brood of 12 children adopted from around the world, Josephine never had a dull moment.  

Author: Patricia Hruby Powell
Illustrator: Christian Robinson
ISBN: 978-1-4521-0314-3
Published 2014 by Chronicle Books

I borrowed this copy from my public library to review.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Water Can Be

I’m not a big follower of astrological signs and horoscopes, but I do know from reading Teen Magazine growing up that mine is a “water” sign and I have always felt calmed by water.  Being immersed and floating weightlessly, feeling running water on my hands, or dipping my feet into a pool are all appealing to me.  Likewise, I love pretty much every poem I’ve ever read by Laura Purdie Salas and this series including “A Leaf Can Be” and I’m hoping many more to come.  So, as you might expect…I’m a big fan of “Water Can Be.”  

On a technical front, the inclusion of a further explanation of each descriptive passage helps to extend this book beyond our youngest readers.  A glossary and suggestions for further reading helps students to learn more independently or teachers to craft a unit of study with other texts as well.  

Violaeta Dabija’s illustrations complement the text beautifully.  The color scheme and soft lines are soothing.  I think my personal favorite is that of an otter hugging a fish (presumably one he is about to ingest) by moonlight.  And, I know a high school classmate of mine who carves fantastic ice sculptures will appreciate the final illustrated spread showing what I assume might be an ice carving competition.

Water can take on so many lovely forms, and this book expresses that so well.  Enjoy “Water Can Be.”  Perhaps with a tall glass of water.

Water Can Be
Author: Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrator: Violeta Dabija
ISBN: 978-1-4677-05912
Published 2014 by Millbrook Press

I borrowed this copy from my public library to review.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Viva Frida

Viva Frida.  So.  Some people may have difficulty with Viva Frida classified as nonfiction.  I don’t.  Though, admittedly, I am not all that stringent with such labels.  Does this make more sense in the “picture book” section.  Maybe.  But Frida was a real person.  And everything stated in the sparse text is true.  So there’s that.

Now that that’s out of the way.

I like the way the visuals flow through Frida’s boisterous life and into a dreamlike state.  Much like the wounded deer she often painted with her own head, Frida was a beautiful creature who was wounded early in life by polio.  But without being restricted to a hospital bed, would she have discovered her passion for painting?  Much of this backmatter was gleaned from Yuyi Morales’ afterword “My Frida.”  Looking closely at the illustration on the photographed puppet in this section, we see Frida painting her own heart, not on her sleeve.  But close.  So true.


Viva Frida
Author: Yuyi Morales
ISBN: 978-1-59643-603-9
Published 2014 by Roaring Brook Press

I borrowed this copy from my public library to review.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Home for Mr. Emerson

The amazing team of Kerley and Fotheringham have done it again with “A Home For Mr. Emerson.”  Together, they brought us “What to Do About Alice”, “The Extraordinary Mark Twain”, and “Those Rebels, John and Tom.”  I love the endpapers with various of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quotes, including the simple but powerful “Scatter Joy.”  

Following Emerson on his journey, explaining that he moved around often as a young boy and longed for a place to call home.  I love that “he wondered: Could he build a life around these things he loved?”  The answer, of course, yes.  

And Kerley and Fotheringham built a book that focuses in on Emerson’s home, both the building, and the town and community.  The final return home reminds me of the reality television show “Extreme Home Makeover.”  I imagine Ty Pennington obnoxiously yelling, “MOVE THAT BUS!” as Ralph Waldo Emerson and his daughter, Ellen, returned home from their trip abroad.  I particularly enjoyed the Author’s Note as that fleshed out more details of Emerson’s personal life.  And, to conclude: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
A Home for Mr. Emerson
Author: Barbara Kerley
Illustrator: Edwin Fotheringham
ISBN: 978-0-545-35088-4
Published2014  by Scholastic Press

I borrowed this copy from my public library to read and review.