Saturday, October 30, 2010

Book Fair

So, instead of going in a logical (or semi-logical) sequence, I'm going to jump to the end of that list and talk about our upcoming book fair.  Because - I am SO excited!!  We run our book fair through Scholastic and they have so many awesome aspects to their fairs.  I have a phenomenal team of PTA Book Fair coordinators and we simply wouldn't be able to run such a fabulous fair without them and their expertise.  I attended a workshop to learn more about the fair and how everything runs as well as to preview some of the selections in order to introduce those selections to students.  Fifth graders watched Book Trailers as part of a project to vote for the Best Book Trailers for K-6 students as compiled by School Library Journal Magazine.  But that will be another post. of the preview books was one that students had gotten really excited about while watching and voting for their favorite book trailers - "Closed for the Season" by Mary Downing Hahn.

Also, this fair will be one of the first that follows the release of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, so we've been collecting pre-orders for the new book.  Kids are SO excited about this release.  Any time kids get excited about books, you know that great things are happening.

In order to raise the level of excitement, for the first time our school participated in a reading incentive that got the principal (or assistant principal in this case) involved in a wacky stunt.  The "What Would You Do For Reading" video prompted our school's assistant principal to propose that if kids "Read 100,000" minutes, she would dress as Captain Underpants.  I will say that it is a huge understatement to say that the kids were excited.  Many decided that they would read 100 minutes that day!  I'll blog about the program and our ups and downs with it in another post, so as to stay focused.

The theme for this year's fair is "Here's to our Heroes" which encompasses Superheroes and Everyday Heroes alike.  To celebrate this theme, students are doing different hero-based projects at each grade level and writing letters to be mailed around the holidays to military serving overseas or away from home.  We also invited military, firefighters, police officers, and other everyday heroes to come to our school to pose for pictures with students at our fair evening event.  I'm hoping this will be a fun opportunity for all those involved.

I have so much more that I could write, but...I'll be back!

It's Been Too Long

1) I apologize for my bad blogging behavior.
2) It is my goal to post about lessons and other happenings in our library.
3) I'd better get to it as time is precious.
4) I'm hoping to eventually get into the swing of things and blog once a day.  As it is I'm so behind that I could easily blog more often and still not be caught up on topics I'd like to write about.  But...I don't know that it's wise to set the bar too high.
5) A few quick updates...and perhaps I'll use this list to jog my memory for future posting.

  • Pirate Fiction/Non-Fiction Lesson
  • K - Ducks in a Row
  • 5 - Nobel Peace Prize
  • 4 - Wiktionary
  • 3 - Dewey Decimal System
  • 2 (and 3) - Shelf Elf
  • 1 - Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians
  • K - We're Going on a Book Hunt
  • 5 - SLJ Trailee Awards
  • 2 - Too Much Noise in the Library
  • 1 - ABC Order
  • K - We'll Be Comin' Down to Storytime
  • Read 100,000
  • Encyclopedia Brittanica Online Education
  • 2 - Electronic Catalog
  • 1 - Do You Know the Muffin Man?  Book Address, Book Neighborhoods, ABC Order
  • K - Nursery Rhymes
  • 5 - My Hero Project - website development
  • 4 - My Hero Project - podcast
  • 3 - My Tall Tale Hero
  • Superhero ABC
  • Book Fair Preview
  • Book Fair
  • Weeding and Policies/Procedures
  • TV Studio

Thursday, September 30, 2010

If You Give a Kid a Book

Second Grade started the school year learning about circular stories, like those written by Laura Numeroff. Side note - when did she drop Joffe from the middle?  I talked about the idea of a circular story ending up right where it began and talked about how a library is like that.  We check out books, enjoy them, have adventures, and then the books (fingers crossed) end up in the library, right where they began.  Students then created class book pages for a book titled "If You Give a Kid a Book" to review book care and library manners.  We used a Google Docs presentation to create each page and I typed the student's words using a wireless keyboard connected to our smartboard computer.  Similar to the Language Experience Approach, typing student's word on the big screen gives them an opportunity to see their words recorded and keeps students engaged in what is happening with whole group instruction.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Take a Magic Tree House Trip

Third Graders are re-acquainting themselves with the library shelves this fall by taking a Magic Tree House-esque trip through the Dewey Decimal System.  Well, actually the activity has now been modified several times over due to the construction and continued "debris", but here was the original plan and one I hope to execute much better in the future.  Each student would start out with a Magic Tree House Title (after discussing some of the elements of the series, i.e. Jack and Annie always find a book in the tree house that takes them to the time and place that the plot centers around) and go to the shelves to find a book that might have taken Jack and Annie to that time or place.  For example, to get to the title, "Tonight on the Titanic," they might have opened up a book about the Titanic.  Once each student has a sample non-fiction book, we can discuss in groups what the DDS numbers mean and group kids together with numbers that are close and figure out what those titles have in common.  So, I thought this would be a great plan.  Then reality hit and the shelves were still blocked by technological fallout and a huge papier machie dinosaur.  So, we did this activity in a similar fashion with cards with the titles printed as getting all the books off the shelves without tables to seat each student didn't seem entirely wise either.  Maybe by Thursday's class, we'll be able to do this activity in its intended fashion.  Maybe.  No promises.

Take a magical trip in your library - read a great book!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Word Up

4th and 5th Graders have Summer Reading.  As a way to review what books kids read, each class did two activities, each catered to that grades list.  For the first activity, we did a circle and each student told the class his/her favorite summer reading book from the list.  At the same time, I typed the book titles into a list on a word document.  Then, we copied and pasted the list into Wordle.  And, voila!

Wordle: 5B Summer Reading

Following the circle and wordle creation lesson, students also created a scavenger hunt that included finding students who had read certain books, the authors of certain books, or the names of characters from those books.  The students seemed engaged and voted to continue the activity during the next class period to have more time to complete as many boxes as possible.

I plan to create a bulletin board to showcase the wordle that each class created.  Pretty neat summary activity for summer reading!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pirate Book Buddy Bag

So, I won a prize for the library - hopefully the first of many such contests/grants that help to benefit our students.  I won a Book Buddy Bag that pairs two pirate books - one fiction and one non-fiction.  I can't wait to use this with students!  When I wrote my entry for the contest, I explained that this would be used in a school library to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day on and around September 19th.  I got this idea from another awesome librarian, Bev Keegan, of Mill Creek Elementary.  She used it as a fiction/non-fiction lesson with pirate hooks.  They had fiction on one side and non-fiction on the other.  Kids flipped them to display which kind of book was being shown.  I'll be trying this out with first graders starting next Friday...if the hooks are ready.  Fingers, or hooks, crossed!  Listed below is the information for Links to Literacy, the sponsor of the contest - thanks!!!

Blog for Educators:
Blog for Parents:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tech Shop

As a tech leader, I try to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible. When I was presented the opportunity to attend Act 48 workshops for free I took it. In addition to trainings offered through my school district's summer professional development for free, there were also funds available from a PDE Act 183e Grant to take certain technology workshops at MCIU. Which is where I am right now...and where I was on Monday afternoon.

After reviewing MyLearningPlan I realized that I have spent 31.5 hours this summer in technology workshops. Phew. I'm actually in one RIGHT NOW learning about...blogs, wikis, and forums. I like to attend workshops on topics I don't know about...and topics I DO know about, like...blogging. The thing about technology is that the more things change, the more they...change. Technology is never static, never stable. There is always something to learn. These workshops also afford me the time to play with applications that I may have been really meaning to get to, but there is always, always, always something else. For example, I just learned about technorati. I had heard the word before, but never investigated further. Technorati is a search engine for blogs. And I'm not there...that will have to be remedied. Soon. I'm pretty sure I have to start tagging my posts. I'll get to day. I also played, just now, on a site I signed up for during its inception when there was absolutely NO content. Now it is full to brimming with great ideas, even for teaching lessons in the library. So I'll have to get back there. I added both Technorati and Curriki to my Diigo page which will automatically update to the Delicious page as well.

So, what else have I been doing for 31.5 hours?!?
  • Intro to Smartboard Notebook 10 - Why the New Version? (again, I am relatively well-versed in Smartboard, but since mine was delivered mid-way through September there was no "official" training, so this offered the opportunity to review post-maternity leave year and to learn about updates to the program.)
  • Moodle Overview (Moodle proved to be relatively non-applicable to me and something I didn't see an application for at my level/position. It seemed more geared to online course creation.)
  • Lead Teacher Workshop (Mandatory)
  • Solo Software (A program that our district subscribes to that "reads out loud" for students on the web and on ebooks. It also has a component to "write out loud" with students as well as many other awesome applications that can be utilized by students with special needs OR any students who might take advantage of these tools.)
  • Using Google Docs in the Classroom and to Organize Your Life (While I already used Google Docs, I learned more about the available templates and the opportunity to write live in real time on the same document with a collaborative group. I've now created spreadsheets to keep track of budgetary expenses and a calendar for school as well as a document to input all my lesson plans. Starting from scratch has its benefits!)
  • Restorative Practices Book Club (A new program for school wide community building - an initative for this fall and an opportunity to talk about it.)
  • Elluminate (A tool for online learning - I had a class two days later utilizing elluminate so this refresher reminded me of some important aspects and helped me to familiarize myself with elluminate.)
  • Safari Montage (A video program that our school is subscribed to starting this year. We will continue to have a year of overlap with Discovery Education United Streaming, but this should offer us a place to upload our TV Studio morning show for students to watch from archives.)
  • Wikis, Blogs, and Forums (Here...right now...)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Murphy's Law of Blogging and Technology

As soon as I sing any praises, problems arise.  Shelfari is giving me trouble logging in and staying logged in for any stretch of time long enough to input some information.  This is the same thing that happened when I first signed up for the account.  Patience.  Has anyone else experienced this glitch?

Next Up In the Ring: Library Thing vs/ Shelfari

And it's a knockout!  A few years back, again while in my class with Calvin Wang at Arcadia, I learned about a tool called Library Thing and it changed my life.  That may be overstating its impact, but sincerely.  I've always been a reader and had begun a while back keeping a reading journal, after I started a book club, yes...I am a book geek.  And I'm not ashamed of that at all.

Regardless, Library Thing became my fascination with uploading all my books, and indicating books I would like to read.  This was really the kicker for me, because in general my "to-read" list has always been a bit unmanageable.  Since that time, I've had a baby and tracking my reading has fallen a bit by the wayside, though since "What to Expect When You're Expecting" is listed as one of my last entries into my personal Library Thing, I can tell that I was ever vigilant up until the point that darned baby (just kidding) made her appearance on the scene.  So, in class I created my own Library Thing and added a widget to my own personal blog.  This was also my first experience with widgets and the beginning of an obsession.  I'm sure that apps will be a similarly pre-occupying habit once we get our iPhones this week (p.s. I'm getting an iPhone this week!!!).

So, I had a personal Library Thing.  I also created a "faux" school library account under the name...ontheshelf4kids as part of a group project, but I thought of the name and was quite proud of it, so I have no reservations continuing to use it for my own professional blog/twitter/library thing/shelfari (we'll get there in a bit)/delicious/diigo/flickr/image chef, etc. etc. accounts.  So, I had planned to utilize the Library Thing account to build my own reviews of children's lit as I read it and utilized it in my school library.  Then, I read not once but twice about a limit for a free account of 200 books.  Now, I'm not one to pay for something if I don't have to, so this gave me pause.  I decided to check out the competitors.  Shelfari and Goodreads.  Shelfari looked great, but I had trouble signing up for my account and subsequently actually signing in.  Hmmm.  Goodreads didn't look all me.  So, I went along my merry way.

Later, I went back to Shelfari and successfully logged in.  I was IN LOVE.  I thoroughly enjoy gimmicks and the shelving in Shelfari is just, well, cute.  The visual appeal is huge and if you're going to judge a book by its cover, you might as well do it on Shelfari.  You can create reviews, edition notes, tags, and indicate if you plan to read, are currently reading, or have already read the selected title.  There is also a widget to embed, though I haven't gotten around to that step just yet.  I've also created a FB page for ontheshelf4kids and wanted to add the visual bookshelf there.  I have one on my personal FB page, but haven't been able to add a tab to the ontheshelf4kids page.  Worst case scenario is that I link it to Shelfari and that's not a bad case scenario at all as it will prevent me from unnecessarily double uploading to both Shelfari and FB (which is a personal problem with Snapfish and FB, but I digress).

Also, my district recently invested in Follett Destiny upgrade to our circulation system, linking all three buildings in the district.  It seems that Destiny has many of these capabilities housed at Shelfari, such as review-writing, rating, and tagging might just be referred to as subject search :).  As I learn more about DestinyShelfari may become less vital, but for now, I enjoy its capabilities.  I can tag books that I'd like to use for lessons so that I can search for them later.  And I don't have to pay (ahem Library Thing).  And last but not least, the sharing capabilities of a site like Shelfari will, hopefully, offer guidance for other librarians or teachers looking for a "good read" with some information about lessons as well.  Shelfari is the winner in my book (pun intended)!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Your Move, Social Bookmarking: Delicious vs/ Diigo

I have truly come full circle when it comes to social bookmarking.  A few years back, I was involved in a class on technology for school librarians at Arcadia University with the fabulous and amazing recommendation writer Calvin Wang and one of the tools we became familiar with was Delicious - at that time  Delicious is a social bookmarking tool so you create a page where you store, tag, and share all of your bookmarks.  I just didn't get it.  I didn't see the need for such a site.  Why would I want to share what websites I visited most frequently.  Sounds stingy of me, doesn't it?  I wasn't thinking why would I want to share...but at the time the websites I visited most often were ones to check my bank balance, pay and check credit cards, check my email, and other sites that I didn't feel were necessary or wise to share with the world.  Now, I have a much different perspective on this exact topic.  I think that before my web world was very small - I visited certain websites for teaching on a daily basis with my students but didn't branch out much because...who could keep track of all that?  Well, that's the whole point!  I've now changed my tune so much that when the topic of backing up bookmarks at school came up, I explained to a teacher that I don't save bookmarks on my school drive anyway - they're saved on a website (Delicious) where I can access them on any computer at school as well as at home.  She replied that that made sense and it dawned on me that, perhaps, in my new role as school librarian I should share this tool with my fellow teachers.  I'm sure that some are already well aware, but others may not know these tools exist or the further implications they have on teaching and our students, especially as an organizational tool.  Then, my mind really started churning and I thought, what if...we had a site for our school where all teachers could contribute links and indicate via tags what grade level they were intended for and subjects, etc.  Then, any teacher in the school could access those links.  As it is now, teachers certainly are a sharing bunch, but they send links over email and then the person on the other end is responsible for following the link, seeing if they like it, and saving it on their own for future use.  With this possibility, that would be a thing of the past and one less item to clog up already full email accounts.  I'm still trying to decide if we should roll this out as a schoolwide account that any teacher can access (or an even grander scale, a district-wide set-up), or if each teacher should set up his/her own account and then form a group.  My gut feeling is that a school-wide account would be the way to go to start and get people familiarized with the way this whole social bookmarking thing works.  Then, as they choose, they may set up individual accounts and link back to the school-wide account.  If anyone reading this has experience with this issue, please comment below or email me your suggestions.

I could also set up pathfinders on a wiki where others could contribute, but the tagg-abliity and search-ability of social bookmarking seems to make more sense to me on this front.  Perhaps in a few months, I'll be on a pathfinder kick and blogging about that.  Knowing me, I'll do both to some extent anyway.  Because I seem to enjoy creating more work out of thin air for myself - fun, right?

Image courtesy of

Now, onto the title point.  I had been first introduced to Delicious and so that is the service I utilized.  I had originally set up a personal account where I stored links to parenting information, teaching information, technology information and was quite a hodgepodge.  When I got the position of librarian (yay!) I set up a strictly professional account to store links for library, technology, and teaching purposes only.  Then I checked out Diigo on a whim and saw that it had some different and perhaps more capabilities.  After a shout out to my PLN on twitter, I heard back that they do indeed do different things and both are valuable for different reasons.  Delicious has a better search capability and Diigo has a better capability to set up groups.  So which to choose.  Then came the kicker.  You don't have to choose (and you don't have to do double the uploading work, even more importantly).  I think I have all the kinks worked out at this point.  Since I had set up Delicious first, I exported all the bookmarks I had already saved to my computer's desktop.  Then, when I created my Diigo account, I imported all the bookmarks from my desktop.  Amalia Connolly on Twitter told me that Diigo can upload to Delicious so you don't have to choose.  So, I went about uploading solely on Diigo planning to upload to Delicious eventually.  I got around to that step today and went about things in a round-about way.  I realized that I can change settings to automatically update to Delicious each time I update to Diigo, but I can't make it happen retroactively.  So, everything from the time I exported from Delicious to Diigo until the present was lost in the middle.  Are you still with me?  So, I chose to export all my Diigo bookmarks to my desktop and import all of them back into Delicious with the additional bookmarks added in the meantime.  It replaced all old bookmarks so now I have two identical lists, which may sound silly, but now that the automatic setting is in place, it will never be any more work in the future.  I know that all sounded a bit complicated.  So let me simplify for you.  Set up an account in both Diigo AND Delicious.  On Diigo, click on "tools" in the upper right hand corner then click on "more tools" on the left hand side at the bottom.  Click on "Save to Delicious"  and enter the user information for your Delicious account.  Voila - do this FIRST and you can avoid all the importing and exporting expounded upon above.  I'll make all my mistakes for you!

And, if you're wondering how someone populates a social bookmarking site with 174 links in 1 month, check out blogs in your area of interest, enter them all into an RSS reader and you'll be reading about exciting and current sites with implications for your area of interest.  I'll post more about RSS and blog-reading in another post.  I'll probably add the blogs I'm reading to a widget on the side bar here for ease of checking them out for any interested readers of this blog.  Twitter, a micro-blogging tool, also offers the same opportunity.  Check out lists of others to follow with the same interest and you'll be updated on what they're currently reading online, or in print, and what new and exciting initiatives they are implementing.

Checkmate - I win!

Friday, July 23, 2010


ontheshelf4kids is con-tech-ted in many different ways.

Image courtesy of 

Through twitter, a professional learning network has been established.  Furthermore, parents can follow ontheshelf4kids on twitter as we tweet about our daily do-ings in the library.
Delicious is a bookmarking site where we have begun to collect a variety of websites sorted by tags for use in the library, by teachers, students, and parents as well.

Diigo serves essentially the same function as Delicious but has further capabilities such as adding highlighted areas to text on webpages, sticky notes to annotate, and more - both Delicious and Diigo have the function of creating groups as well which will serve well for connecting our library to other libraries which might benefit from sharing in our list of links to resources.

Flickr is a site to collect photos.  I became inspired when searching for creative commons licensed photos using a search for library.  I came across a colleagues' collection of photos of school library displays and decided I would like to share display ideas as well.  I have to check into sharing photos including students as to our photo release form, or I can edit the photos so that students are not discernible in the photos.  But I can definitely see the applications for using flickr and also for teaching students about using creative commons licensed images through this site.

ontheshelf4kids also has a facebook presence.  I plan to utilize this as one more tool to reach out to families, students, teachers, and others to publicize the great happenings in our school library.

Library Thing 
Library Thing is a site to showcase the books in your library.  Using this site we can create widgets to create flash files of book covers for the side bar of the blog.  You can also write reviews and interact with the collection in other ways.  I'm still thinking about how to best use this tool and decide if Follett Destiny might have some of the same features.

Clearly, we are here on blogger.  I haven't even conceptualized the entire scope of this blog just yet.  I plan to use my school website blog as well and may reserve this blog for professional sharing.  It may also be a jumping off point for student project blogs that may appear separate from this title.  I plan to use our school website blog to share about specific happenings with classes and offer students the opportunity to blog about their experiences during library lessons.  I'd like for this blog to have a specific format, but don't want to limit myself to just sharing book reviews, or technology integration ideas.  I want this blog to be VERY open ended, but I'd like it to be organized and reliable as well.  Any feedback is welcome.  I was thinking there may be a rhyme and reason to daily posts, like Tech Tuesdays, or Fiction Fridays.  This is still a brainstorm in its infancy, but hopefully it will flesh out quite nicely.

Time Ticks On
July is almost done and August will be here much too quickly.  Summer reading is in full swing here (a post I plan to share shortly).  I am attending many professional learning opportunities in August and plan to post more about each as well as the preparations that will be happening in our library.  The first day of school will be here before you know it!

Image courtesy of

Friday, July 9, 2010

Big Plans

Our school is undergoing a major construction project and I've been fortunate to witness the progress on my visits into our school's library.  Fortunately the library is still air conditioned!  I've been in the process of organizing and moving in my (considerable) stuff.  Hopefully I've got the "right stuff" for the job.  I've also been busy going through back issues of "School Library Journal" and "Library Sparks" to spark my imagination in planning for some fabulous lessons to engage students and keep the enthusiasm strong as we enter a new school year.  I'm excited to welcome 4th and 5th graders into our school for the first time in my career at Pine Road, though I've taught this group way back when they were in 1st grade.  I'm looking forward to my new position as a specials or "encore" teacher and the opportunity to see all the students in the school and see them grow and change throughout their six years of elementary school.  Hopefully I can help to support their growth in reading and technology as well as actively integrating all the curricular areas.  Like the title of this post indicates, I have big plans.  I've been over to HV's public library to meet with the new interim children's librarian to work on setting up a back to school read aloud.  Since I just can't wait for the first day, this will give me an opportunity to start a little early.  This also opens the door for communication and collaboration between the school and public library.  I've been up to visit an independent book store to possibly supplement our book fairs at school through Scholastic and I've begun to brainstorm effective ways to reach out to collaborate with teachers and encourage their input for selection of new materials for the LMC.  I have ideas for classroom management in the LMC and strategies to keep things running smoothly.  I have plans to incorporate more storytelling features, i.e. felt board, magnet stories, puppets, and more.  Using Library Sparks' Guide to the Twitterverse, I quickly populated my twitter feeds to follow many authors and other applicable tweets.  Similarly, I've utilized their webliographies to investigate suggested sites to populate my account.  I've signed up for several of the IU and SD's workshops subsidized by a grant to learn more about technology tools that I'm not as familiar with: Moodle, Safari Montage, and others.  And, as is always the case with technology, the more things change...the more they change, so I went to a workshop on a topic I thought I was fairly well versed in and learned a ton!  Being out on maternity leave for one year can really leave you in the dust!  More on Smart Notebook 10 to come in a future post.  For each of these workshops and topics, I'll post a lil' something.  Looking forward to jumping in feet first to the school library blogosphere.  I'm here to make a splash!