Thursday, December 19, 2013

Great Day to be a Mountie!

It's a great day when one more book club can be squeezed in before the holidays!

Yesterday we had a book club talk about Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. These kids make your holiday merry and bright!

Everyone have a happy holiday!
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Independent Learners!

Yep! If kids want to check out at 7:30 a.m., they have figured out what to do when I am helping other students!

One table of students were making Christmas mice with candy canes and a slew of kid-folks were working on the computers.

Some students were working on an Hour of Code learning what it's like to be a computer programmer! Yah for the kids!
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Friday, December 6, 2013

RIP: Nelson Mandela

Today Google shared a site that chronicles Nelson Mandela's life. RIP, Mr. Mandela 1918 - 2013, one of the most inspiring people in the world.
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Universe

Did you know (you probably did) that the ocean covers 70% of the planet? It's hard for me to understand that we will be running out of H20 anytime soon!

Thanks to our last Scholastic Book Fair we have a new book about oceans Oceans and Sea: Dive into Earth's Most Spectacular Habitat by Steve Parker. Just look at that beautiful cover!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Latest Library Effort Which You'll Soon See Everywhere!

All I have heard about lately is 3D printers and I want one! These printers can be used to print out things like spaceships that you snap together from plastic pieces printed out of the printer. If that doesn't sound exciting, I don't know what is!

Seriously! I see 3D printers as the next great way to get kids excited about learning. They can be connected to every subject and can turn the library into a great MakerSpace which is the latest buzzword in libraries.

Check out this website for lots of good ideas!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Nooks and Books!

This year there has been an uptick in students checking out Nooks, our e-readers. What do the students use them for? A variety of things including checking out books from Overdrive, listening to music, getting online for research, and playing the games already loaded on the Nooks.

Several repeat customers come in and check them out over and over. I think they have found a good thing and believe it's our best kept secret! But we want others to know that with a parent permission form, anyone from any grade can check out a Nook!

So, stop by the library to see what they are all about! You're always welcome to check out a book, too! Just keep stopping by to see what's going on in the library!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Time to be Thankful!

In this month when everyone is posting days and days of thankfulness, I thought I would join in the fun!

I am thankful for former Irondale Middle parents who - along with friends at work - shares the wealth of Box Tops! Thank you to every student, parent, and teacher who has helped in this effort this year of bringing them in.
Thanks for sharing! Stay tuned for other things to be thankful for and please share yours!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Professional Development - Heading to Hartford!

Teachers get refreshed by attending professional development sessions that teach new technologies, the latest way to reach struggling readers and writers, and the best way to teach every subject there is.

Did you know that librarians need refreshing, too?! In these tough economic times where libraries are trying to buy new books with a shoestring budget and with managing the library usually without an aide, it's great to step away from the pitcher's mound to get some new strategies for reading!

Not only do I pick up tons of free books at conferences, but I make new connections. With these connections, I get new ideas for the library for programs and teaching.

I can't wait to bring back something new after attending Rising to the Challenge for school librarians!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Fair Helpers!

These kids saved the day today!

This weekend at IMS we had a Hispanic Fair and could not set up the Book Fair. These kids were here bright and early to hlep me set up the fair. They did an excellent job!

Thanks, IMS students!

Please stop by the fair this week!

Setting up for Scholastic Book Fair with Awesome Kids!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Kids Can Never Get Enough of Diary of Wimpy Kid!

Some Irondale Middle classes will be joining in the fun of hearing a sneak peek about the latest in the Wimpy Kid series.

This event takes places November 4th at 1:00 p.m. central time.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's Teen Read Week! And there's a Prize for that!

While Be A Champion and Read is ongoing until October 28th, the library is drawing prizes from those who have turned in their list of six books.

The books are all from Scholastic and here's the winning book today!

During Teen Read Week the library will be giving away a great book everyday! Logan, please stop by and get your prize. Thank you, Ms. Ward, for being a guest on the news and drawing the winner's name!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Seeing Pink

Here are few things that are coming through the library lately:

  • The news is broadcast through the library and here are a few things going on in the whole school and the library is connected to all of them!
    • The National Junior Honor Society is selling pink t-shirts in honor of breast cancer research and awareness for $9
    • The Be A Champion and Read Contest ends October 27th. Encourage your child to participate!
    • This Friday is our Fall Festival!
    • The library is selling water bottles, powdered flavoring packets, and bookmarks for 50 cents each to raise money for books
  • The next Scholastic Book Fair is scheduled for November 4 - 9!
  • Stay tuned for more news from the library!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Today was our first book club. We read passages from Wonder by R. J. Palacio and discussed the book.

Some of our favorite parts as a group are the birth of August and the hilarious story of the nurse (you will have to read it), the sad Cheese Touch chapter, and reading about Daisy, August and Via's dog.

We also talked about the "precepts" in the book that August's Social Studies teacher brings up to get the kids thinking. At the moment all 5 copies are still checked out, so I can't list one, but I will in the next blog post!
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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How a Federal Government Shutdown Affects Schools

Yesterday, as we all know by now, the Federal Government shut down. Federal Parks, some Washington monuments, and even the WIC (women, infants and children food distribution program) are being affected.

But did you know that your child's middle school (elementary, high, college) are also being affected?

Yesterday our Teen Living teacher came into the library from the computer lab and said that students could not access the website they were using for research. The 7th graders were researching the food pyramid on a .gov website. The teacher had spent several minutes troubleshooting the reasons the students could not get online.

So, the teacher had to quickly go to plan "B" and explain the Federal Government Shutdown. In the end, there was a lesson, but not the one the teacher had planned.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Alabama College and Career Ready Standard of the Week

This page (which you cannot see, but you can click on this link) is my new favorite section of the Alabama Department of Education. While there are naysayers for the Common Core Standards which are called College and Career Ready Standards in Alabama, you have to love that the State Department of Education is trying to get information out there about the Standards of Learning.
Some people are against College and Career Ready Standards because of the long period of testing while some people are against them because they aren't sure of what they are.
The Standard of the Week paints a clear picture of what Alabama's children need to be able to do and tugs at you emotionally as a parent that Yes! you do want your child to be able to write, be excellent at math, know history, and understand science.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Encouraging Your Kids to Read

Did you know that your children really can lead a better life if they read more? Their grades depend on it, success in middle school, high school and college depends it. The future of their own children depends on being able to read and deciphering the world we live in today. They need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak - find the good websites versus the bad and the good literature versus the bad. The more they read, the better they will be at judging the usefulness of information!

One way they can help themselves as well as their school is to participate in the Be A Champion and Read contest. Students in grades K - 8 have an opportunity to win tickets to the Iron Bowl if they read six books by October 26!

One student will win for Auburn and one for Alabama. The lucky winner will be able to take two guests along to the Alabama / Auburn game, visit the hospitality suite for all the food and drink they can handle, and step onto the field for pre-game activities. Good luck to all students participating! We need 70% participation for the library to be in the running for $5,000. Please encourage your child to get involved!

Here's a Scholastic link about Kids and Reading. Please take a look! You might be surprised at what you find out...

Monday, September 23, 2013

STEM - Do you know what it means?

This weekend I heard a great advertisement about STEM. As an educator, I have known what STEM means, but as a parent - do you know what it means?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The advertisement was geared to parents and was asking them to ask their children what career they were interested in. It also encouraged parents to get their kids interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math because those subjects are where the jobs will be in the future.

And that's where the Alabama Virtual Library (AVL) comes in...

Did you know that the AVL has a huge amount of resources on colleges and careers? Just click on the Career Library tab.

 This page will appear.

The site displays an Exploration Center, a Resource Center, an Activity Center and over to the left students can click on resume creator and a Search for Colleges tab on the sidebar.

This resource is valuable and all parents should see it!

College tuition, fraternities and sororites, subject majors, and a whole world await this discovery in this online resource.

Middle school is not too early to think about STEM and college.

E-mail me if you have questions about navigating the website!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Students Enjoying Speaker during Constitution Week

A number of students were able to participate in hearing Congressman Spencer Bachus' Field Representative Ethan Vice today.

He spoke about amendments to the Constitution; what it means when the flag is flying above the White House (that President Obama is at home); decorating the Oval Office and how the President gets to choose his desk. Obama choose John F. Kennedy's desk.

Students had lots of questions about the safety of the White House, what's underneath the White House, and how long a person can serve as President.
They also each received a pocket-size version of the Constitution of the United States. Hopefully our speaker will join us again in the spring so more students can enjoy hearing about our government!
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Best Thing about Tuesday and Thursdays...

is The Tutors!
Remember, tutors are here from 7:20 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. to help with every subject. And it's not just for struggling students - tutoring is for all levels of students. That's just one way students get smarter - by working with smart kids who've been there, done that in middle school.

So, join us in the library on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for talk about math, history, science, social studies, ideas about papers and projects.

We hope to see you soon!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Surprise! A Classroom Wish List Granted!

Community partners are truly the fairy godmothers of the education world.

The AT&T Pioneers Volunteers started passing along Box Tops to us last year which has been a big help. An even bigger surprise is the letter I received in my box today - $100 of supplies from the AT&T Pioneers!

So, thank you to the fairy godmothers who are our partners out there getting teachers what they need. I've made my list and thank you for the opportunity!
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Tutors on Tuesdays and Thursdays!

If your student needs help with any subject, send him/her to the library for tutoring help. IB tutors come on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 a.m.

Our hallway sign reminds students to stop by for tutoring.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

21st-Century Learners at Irondale Middle

In an day and age when just about everything is moving to an online format, it is incumbent on teachers to teach their students how to operate in a digital world.

I am proud to say that we are moving more in that direction every day at Irondale Middle. Our Assistant Principal, Mrs. Rachel Holifield, just created an online ballot for homecoming representatives!

Now that, my friends, is an excellent example, of a 21st Century Skill. She created a ballot for each grade through Google Drive (a Google App formerly called Google Docs).

Think, Create, Share, Grow is an American Association of School Librarians tagline and I am pretty sure we just grew at our school!

Google Drive - Check out the App today!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Swirling Solo!

Well, this is the first year of flying solo or "swirling solo" which rolls off my tongue in a way that's a bit more fun!

In the middle school setting swirling solo means I'll have a lot more student aides swirling around and I'll be swirling a lot more myself around the school and back to the library before a flurry of e-mails sends me to the next task! I am looking at this transition in a positive way.

At first I did not see working alone in the Library Media Center as a good thing. I only saw more tasks ahead of me and wondered how I would get it all done.

What I have found instead is lots of teachers pitching in to help other teachers on their hall with setting up technology and a lot more teachers stopping by the library to talk about future collaborations.

So, I am excited about this! Here is how I will handle some of the housekeeping issues:

  1. Create self-checkout for students in Atrium.
  2. Allow students to take on an ownership role in creating huge dsiplays in our very large display case.
  3. Allow students to take on a bigger role in management of Nooks - counting them and making sure they stay charged.
  4. Demonstrate to students how to troubleshoot issues on teacher laptops and send them out to take care of it (The Fn (function) key being the largest of these issues). Perhaps I'll create a laminated sheet of various problem-solving tips or let "guided inquiry" take over! Many times the techie student can figure it out on his/her own.
  5. Allow students to assist teachers with pulling books and assist students with software, hardware, and website issues.
  6. Bounce ideas off students for grants and contests.
  7. Provide a student chair and rules for being behind the desk.
  8. Students with the best handwriting will be able to abbreviate the genres in the fiction collection - since my library is genre-fied.

All in all it's going to be a more student-centered and student-led Library Media Center. No, there is nothing earth-shattering and very new here, but I think it's going to work. I am ready to swirl! If this is the case for you, have a great year and leave a comment about how you will manage the year.

Our former library aide, Mrs. Barker, working one of our many bookfairs. Have a great year at your new school, Mrs. Barker!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kids and Healthcare

Forbes magazine features an article on healthcare, children's knowledge of healthcare and access to medical school for more people than just those who can afford it. Here's a link to the online article: Medical Schooling for Children

With medical care costs in the billions and all of us affected by it, you might want to take a look at this author's opinion on children learning earlier about healthcare.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More Information on Phishy Things...

Kids by now have probably been talking about the great videos they have seen on online tracking and cyberbullying produced by Common Sense Media.

Here's another one put out by our own government that looks equally as informative and friendly to use. Information on scams, protecting yourself online and securing your computer's safety is available.

Check it out and let me know! Compare it to Which do you like better?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Summer Reading and Online E-books at The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is a great place to visit for kids, teens, parents and educators to find out more about free books to read and read them right in your browser. If your browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, etc.) asks you to download Javascript, go ahead and click "yes".

The Arabian Nights is just one of many books you will be able to read that is out of copyright. This is exciting stuff! Kids who don't have a device, but do have a desktop computer or laptop can read e-books right from their chair and turn the virtual pages! These books are beautiful, full of illustrations of the kind that you would not be able to afford, but can view online.

Maybe your child just wants to read non-fiction. He/she can find it here and browse African American History or Architecture and all the way up to the Zs!

Images of baseball cards, cartoons the Civil War, and the Dust Bowl are just waiting for your child to go check them out. The Library of Congress is an incredible spot to browse, read, and find out more this summer about the world right from your desktop.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Artwork Outside the Library

Take a look at the beautiful student artwork outside the halls of the library.

This past week the art department and library teamed up to host a family night. Parents and students browsed the gallery halls and shopped the bookfair.
Thank you to those who joined us!
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Friday, April 26, 2013

Book Fair Next Week Monday - Friday

It's Beach Book Fair time! Let's Dive into Reading and get some good books for summer reading!

Family night is Tuesday night! Come grab and cookie and browse. Support our library by purchasing books, pencils, and bookmarks!

Sign up for Summer Reading! Did you know that children who read in the summer score better on tests overall?

Art night is also Tuesday night from 5:00 - 6:30. Beautiful artwork created by students lines the IMS hallways. The talent of the students is amazing - cartoon characters, sunflowers, and everything imaginable is here to feast your eyes on.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Research Projects in the Library

Students in 7th and 8th grade are busy researching using one of the Alabama Virtual Library's databases - Ebsco host. They are becoming experts, too! They have learned to click on full text articles and not just look at the abstracts and they have learned what "hyperlinks" are. We tirelessly try to add to their technology vocabulary in the IMS library.

Here are just a few of their projects:

7th graders - Research on a problem in an African county and at least three causes of the "problem"

  • They have learned about infant mortality and what that means in so many African countries
  • They have learned about HIV Aids and the serious consequences of the causes of that disease (poverty, war migration, etc.)
  • They have learned about illiteracy in other countries and compared it to Alabama's literacy rate
  • They have learned about poverty and its causes
8th graders - Research on CNN heroes mostly done on the CNN website

  • These students have learned what goodness can come out of tragedy, such as The Josh Project that sprang out of a woman's grief for her son who drowned -
  • They have learned that one person can make a huge difference in the life of a community
  • If they had started this Monday, they would surely be reading about all of the heroes in Boston...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Education Hot Topics: The Flipped Classroom and Videos

One of the hottest topics in education is the flipped classroom which I have seen in use the last couple of years.

Instead of the usual teacher lecture model, students are given videos to watch at home. Most often I have seen math teachers offer this which I would have loved as a student. The best way I have seen flipped classrooms work is to give students a video one or two times a week - not as a daily lesson. It would be too much for anyone.

Khan Academy is one of the best websites for students to get some extra teaching help and anything can be searched in there.

Here is an article to read on this topic: Flipped Classrooms.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Poetry and Other Contests for Students - Enter here!

Roses are red, violets are blue,
If you have a prudent student,
then poetry contests might be for you!

Perhaps your student is more creative than I am at the moment, but did you know that some poetry contests award either money or even college scholarship? Here is a list of contests that are open this month.

Cyclamens and Swords - no money involved for this one

U. S. Mint Coin Design - for 13 and under

Let us know if you win!

Monday, April 8, 2013

April is National Poetry Month - How Can We Forget Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken?

April brings a flood of memories for me because it's National Poetry Month.

Years ago in sixth grade I had to memorize Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. It gave me lots to think about. It has remained one of my favorite poems thanks to Mrs. Formby's class. Here's a copy:

The Road Not Taken

Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

The took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no steps had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two road diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Then in fourth grade my son had to memorize Jack Prelutsky's Homework - his choice, not the teacher's. It is hilarious and is also a favorite. Here are the first three lines:

Homework! Oh, Homework!

Homework! Oh, Homework!
I hate you! You Stink!
I wish I could wash you away in the sink!

And then there's Ode to Mrs. Hester from my first substitute teaching job at another local school. Yes, fond memories, all!

One poetry website allows you to rate poets and poems by creating an account and I encourage you to read a few poems this month yourself! And read some of the biographies. Apparently Jack Prelutsky hated school and flunked English three times in college. He grew up to be a great poet anyway.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Movie Resources for Middle School Parents

Planning on seeing The Host this weekend? Here is a website that you can check out for reviews: Common Sense Media not only assists with digital literacy teaching, but parents can get real deal informationa on whether a movie is appropriate for their child or not.

Enjoy the movies!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What Kids Have to Say about Cyberbullying

As much as we try to teach kids something new about the cyber world and how to conduct themselves and set privacy buttons, they are always one step ahead.

Yes, there are the rare moments in 8th grade when the lightbulb still goes off and the lone student or two realizes that, yes, colleges will search Facebook pages before granting a scholarship. On the whole, though, it's more like "heard that".

Teachers can learn much from students and so can parents!
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Check Out a Nook! Reading for Students in the Digital Age

The following is the Permission Form for Nook Check-Out

Irondale Middle School Library Media Center

Nook Color Permissions and Acceptable Use Form

The Barnes and Noble Nook Color is a convenient, portable reading device. It is the size of a paperback and capable of holding hundreds of books. The chance to use this device is a privilege that we are able to extend to students provided the students use extra caution and responsibility. Each Nook Color is valued at $199.00. For this reason we require a parental signature before a Nook Color can be checked out to a student.

Parent Responsibilities and Permission
I am authorizing the assignment of a Nook Color to my child. I understand that it is to be used as a tool for reading and learning and that my child will comply with the IMS Acceptable Use Policy. I will help ensure the safe and timely return of the Nook Color within the loan period of one week; I also understand that I am financially responsible for any willful, malicious, or accidental damage to the Nook Color as well as any charges resulting from content downloaded to the Nook Color. I understand that my child may lose future loan privileges of the device if the Nook Color is either damaged or not returned in a timely manner.

GUARDIAN NAME (printed): __________________________________________________
GUARDIAN SIGNATURE: _______________________________________DATE: _______
GUARDIAN EMAIL: __________________________________________________________
GUARDIAN PHONE #:________________________ALTERNATE #__________________
Student Responsibilities and Permission
I agree to take care of the Irondale Middle School Library Media Center Nook Color while it is in my possession. I will not throw, drop, or damage the Nook Color in any way. I will carry the Nook Color with caution, whether in my book bag or hands. I will NOT give the Nook Color to another student for his/her use. I will use the Nook Color in the appropriate manner. I will NOT download any content to the Nook Color. I agree to return the Nook Color in good condition at the conclusion of the one week loan period.
STUDENT NAME (printed): ____________________________________________________
STUDENT SIGNATURE:______________________________________DATE: ___________
Library Media Center Staff Only
Date Permission Slip Received: __________________________________________________

Library Media Center Staff Signature: ____________________________________________

This form adapted with permission from an original creation by school librarian Kathy Parker at

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Student Wins Scholastic Writing Award!

Congratulations to Debra McGrew for winning an Honorable Mention for her poetry in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards of 2013.

We are very proud of you!

Scholastic is a great company that not only promotes reading, but just about everything that students can get involved in! Math, science, the arts, history, and scholarships are all areas that students can benefit from with Scholastic.
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Great Website for Writing!

Purdue Online Writing Lab is a frequently used spot for students to find out information on MLA (Modern Language Association) format. I have been using it for close to 20 years!

Here is an example of the information that can be found on the site:

What are the differences among quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing?

These three ways of incorporating other writers' work into your own writing differ according to the closeness of your writing to the source writing.
Quotations must be identical to the original, using a narrow segment of the source. They must match the source document word for word and must be attributed to the original author.
Paraphrasing involves putting a passage from source material into your own words. A paraphrase must also be attributed to the original source. Paraphrased material is usually shorter than the original passage, taking a somewhat broader segment of the source and condensing it slightly.
Summarizing involves putting the main idea(s) into your own words, including only the main point(s). Once again, it is necessary to attribute summarized ideas to the original source. Summaries are significantly shorter than the original and take a broad overview of the source material.

Check it out!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Can*Teen Career Exploration - Interactive Game

Students are having a great time in the library before school and any chance they get exploring the questions on Can*Teen.

This CD was made available from The American Association of School Librarians and its purpose is to show teenage girls various careers available to them in science and engineering.

Its cool pictures and reactions to kids' answers keeps students coming back to try and answer the questions.

After this week when lots of students have had exposure to the CD and know that it's available, it will be ready for overnight check-out!
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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What A Common Core Language Arts Lesson Might Look Like in Middle School

It seems all education talk has turned to Common Core Standards and Career Readiness. Students and parents may be wondering what a lesson using the Common Core might look like. So, here is a lesson on outside reading in one nine-week period. Teachers around the country are trying to make sure that students are ready for high school and/or college whatever the case may be and that is the reason for Common Core Standards.

First, the teacher assigns a novel to read and students are given an assignment sheet that the class may or may not have collaborated on beforehand with a rubric (to get ideas from students and share in the formulation of a lesson). Let's say the novel is The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. The Puffin edition has about 176 pages, so it would be reasonable to ask students to read this novel outside of class over nine weeks.

The teacher might suggest reading a certain number of pages per night or dividing the reading into chunks over the weekend.

The assignment might then ask students to make time to research something factual in this work of historical fiction. Students could research the Holocaust and Judaism.

The teacher could then ask her/his students to create a small project like some of the following:

  • Create a dialogue of texting back-and-forth between two characters in the novel. This option could be a lot fun because the novel goes back and forth in time by beginning at a Seder dinner on a Friday night. The end result would be to put the texting session on a poster with some drawings and facts from the research. The texting should be thoughtful and the student should pull out important passages to talk about - not just anything, but something that tells the reader about a meaningful part of the history of the Holocaust or Judaism
  • Create a Facebook page with some of the characters with pictures (cut from magazines or drawn) and create a timeline of the Holocaust and/or Judaism. The end result would need to be placed on a poster or if possible on a computer.
  • Create an Instagram photoset using pictures from online sets and write a blog about the novel. Include historical facts in the blog about the Holocaust and/or Judaism.
  • All of these ideas may or may not include some technology. It depends on how much technology the students have access to - e-readers, laptops, phones, desktops, i-Pads and other devices are wonderful devices to complete projects on
Parts of what is behind Common Core is students exploring and finding out information on their own. This small project involves online research, but students get to pick and choose what goes into their project. It also uses the creative side of the brain.

One of the biggest hopes of educators is that their students become lifelong learners and will go on to study and research for the rest of their lives.

So, here is just a glance of a lesson. It incorporates a lot more brainstorming on the parts of the teacher and students. Also, there are other behind-the-scenes questions and/or directions that take place in the classroom, but this might give you an idea of what you might expect.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Thank you for Donations from Public Libraries!

Public libraries sometimes donate their books and books on CDs to communities and schools that can use them.

This is a public shout out to Emmet O' Neal library for sharing books and CDs with us! These items are a real perk for our collection at IMS. Take a look below!

Thank you for sharing some great materials with us like The Fast and the Furriest  by Andy Behrens, Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen, Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar, and Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm.

If you need help selecting a book, please let us know!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Celebrate World Read Aloud Day!

Today is World Read Aloud Day and we are celebrating by reading from the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Students from Bragg Middle School and Mountain Brook Junior High are sharing the day with us and their English classes through Skyping.

Volunteer students at both schools read for about five minutes. We are reading a chapter called The Cheese Touch which is taken directly from The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Wonder is great because it touches on a lot of subjects, books, and issues that middle school students have to deal with. Bullying, cooties (the cheese touch), homework, books to be read, going to a camp and many other motifs appear in this book.

Most of all we are celebrating that we can read and write and have that ability whereas students in some other countries cannot. We shared examples, such as girls in some Middle Eastern countries not being given the opportunity to learn.

You can participate as a family as well simply by reading aloud from your favorite book!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Middle School Research Season

Research paper season is here! Here are some good sites to suggest to your child to use when researching online:

The Alabama Virtual Library features many databases that are great for middle school research - Kids InfoBits, Encyclopedia Brittanica Online in English and Spanish, and many others

Intellectual Property Teaches students about intellectual property, defines plagiarism

World Intellectual Property Organization More on thoughts and ideas as intellectual property

Copyright Comic Book A comic book story about copyright - great for middle school! Copyright protection definition

More links coming soon!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Book Club is tomorrow morning and I hope you are coming! Come discuss the book, eat breakfast, and get your picture taken. Also, get in line for the next book: Divergent  by Veronica Roth.

Between Shades of Gray is classified as historical fiction. It is set partly in Lithuania and moves to Siberia near the Arctic Circle. It is a tale of one family's endurance and fight for survival as the Soviets arrest them and move them to remote areas to put them to work. The years of this tragedy are early 1940s to the mid 1950s. You have to read it - it is an amazing story! I know I say that about a lot of books, but it is a piece of history that I know you might not know a lot about.

How about owl for dinner, lice for weeks, gardening with a broken practically spoon-sized tool for the Soviets? One of the ways this family survives is by telling their stories of family and food while living on a small beet and a crust of bread. But everyone else lives the same way. Did I mention a love story and how this is based on the author's family?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Check Out Our Work! Specific Genres, Anyone?

In the industry, it's know as "genre-fying" and it is quite controversial to some.

My belief is that it will be a lot of fun for the kids who are used to going to bookstores (and need to see the word "genre" over and and over) to use the library in this way.The idea of dividing our bookshelves into different genres was born this winter.

The kids are helping us decide the genres.

So far, we have shelves of:

Chick Lit/Romance
Realistic Fiction
Sci-Fi / Thriller
Historical Fiction

And other genres are to come! Stay posted to see the end product and signage.
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Verizon App Challenge Certificate

We will have to work a lot harder next year if we truly want to make a real stab at the Verizon App Challenge. As it stands now we only received a certificate of participation. It's a start! And here is a sample of the student-designed I.D. badge. It was a good idea and with all of the mobile devices out there, I would love to see it come into fruition. Here's to next year and starting earlier!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

It's Valentine's Day in the Library!

Come pick up a new bookmark in the library! While you're at it, get a new book!

We have new sets of biographies, football books, and career books.

We hope to see you soon!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Teens and Digital Literacy

Have you ever looked for resources for teens for everything from A to Z, but couldn't find anything to fit your needs? Let"s face it: raising children is the hardest job there is!

Common Sense Media might be the perfect source for your needs.  With advice on Internet safety, gaming online, and teaching kids basic advertising know-how, there is much here to learn! Videos make it a little easier, too!

Common Sense Media can be explored by clicking  here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Check Out A Nook!

Did you know that your child can check a Nook out of the library?

Nook e-readers are available for check-out this semester at IMS. Students may pick up a Nook Permission and Acceptable Use Form at the library desk.

Students can check out books to read on the Nook, conduct Internet research for classes and check out the apps. Chess and crossword puzzles along with read-aloud books are some of the apps that can be enjoyed.

Whole classes are using the Nooks as well, so most students have learned how to check out books. The username is their lunch number and the password is their six-digit birth date (012000).

We hope to see you soon in the IMS library!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

All Guys for BYOD!

Digital Learning Day!
Yesterday we hosted Bring Your Own Device Day in the library and six guys attended. They were loved their prizes! They chose three earbuds - orange, blue and green - a box of mints, and a book!

The guys want to make this a weekly gig. I think it has something to do with their great prizes!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Son by Lois Lowry - Book Club News!

We had a pretty good crowd for Son by Lois Lowry. One of the teachers even came and we had a great discussion!
Tune in soon to see our next book!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


The IB school at Shades Valley is in the library today speaking about engineering.

Did you know that undergraduates at Auburn majoring in engineering have a 100% success rate in getting into medical school? It makes sense! Just think about what orthopedic surgeons do with inserting working parts into knees, shoulders, and arms!

On another note, I am so excited to have won a CBS News One Class at a Time Grant for $1,000!

I will be purchasing four Flip Video Cameras for the library for student and teacher projects! The students are going to love them!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Digital Learning Day

Digital Learning Day is February 6, 2013!

Get ready for events like BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and digital learning. The purpose of Digital Learning Day is to bring awareness to and celebrate learning with technology.

Here's a great blog to read more about Digital Learning Day and technology:

Downloadable Fablevision Poster for Digital Learning Day - Print and give to your teacher to display!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Some Great Books to Read This Year!

Get your year off to a great start with these great books!
Son by Lois Lowry (which just happens to be our Breakfast over Books selection!)
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altabrando
The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington (We just got this one in!)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

7 Things to Know About the New Tax Deal

Since everyone is talking about taxes, wouldn't it be great to talk about taxes with your kids? After all, they will be the leaders of our country and our caretakers one day.

Here is a link to share with them. The link includes information directly from The White House. It's never too early to talk about important issues going on in our country!