Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Last Book Club! Found!

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix was the last selection for a Book Club this year. The Chick-Fil-A cow visited and brought lemonade coupons and stuffed toy cows! Pictures can be seen on their Facebook page and I will upload a picture!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Beginning of a Garden

Last Friday several classes gathered outside to plant cantelope, beans, tomatoes, and lettuce seeds in styrofoam cups. That will be the beginning of our garden at Irondale Middle! Stay tuned for more information on our progress!

Monday, April 28, 2014

School Library Month and The Declaration for The Rights to Libraries

Have you signed a Declaration lately? It may already be out and ready to sign at your local Botanical Gardens, a museum, a public library or a school library, but this is a great time to sign a Declaration for The Rights to Libraries.

This Declaration is a tool to get the word out to the world and the media that libraries are important to their communities. What better time to sign than School Library Month? Here is a link to more information about libraries do and can provide for you. If you have not been to a library lately, go check one out in your community!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How Will Our Garden Grown?

You may or may not know this, but I received a grant for starting a garden at Irondale Middle School! Special thanks to the Whole Foods Foundation for "seed" money to grow a garden!

Here is a link to a garden wall:

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Upcoming Library and School Events at Irondale

It is that busy time of year for schools when testing, grant reports, sports, and fine arts events collide. There is always time for one more though. Our next event is April 15. Fine Arts Night will include a book fair in the library where you can pick up some summer reading, a band concert, an art department showing, and other events in the school are being added.

We hope you will join us from 5:30 - 6:30 on Tuesday the 15th!

Friday, February 7, 2014

How Do You Make Budgets Stretch in a Library

The 20-day blogging challenge post today is on making budgets stretch in a school library.

You'd be surprised what you can cobble together with bookfairs, grants, donations, and BoxTops. It's not a grant sum, but without it I feel I would have a library that's going nowhere toward improvement.

Since I have about 10 seconds to write this blogpost, I will simply list what I do:

  • Two Scholastic BookFairs per year - Many times I only sell enough books to be awarded books in kind for the library, but every little bit helps and I am glad to have the latest publications from Scholastic.
  • One Barnes and Noble in-store Bookfair that I promote mostly to teachers and get a giftcard to fluff the collection
  • Our wonderful PTO donates $500 per year for my Book Club. Those books go into the collection
  • Grants from our Board - I received a grant for a BrainPop subscription for the library
  • Many different grants are available from ALA - I have won the American Bookshelf award before which added to my collection
  • I work with my public library on grants
  • I look for grants outside the box that I can coordinate for the school
  • I enter contests to win books
  • I've sold water bottles at our school carnival
  • I also attend my neighborhood's library book sale and appeal to them through a letter to allow me to look through their leftovers. I have found many brand new books that way and have created my whole audio collection in this way.
It takes a lot of work and constant vigilance. You also have to apply year after year. Applying regularly helps grant-writing skills.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Common Sense Media Lessons and How to Teach Them

Since our school system adopted Common Sense Media in lieu of i-Safe, I have tried teaching it a couple of different ways. The website features videos on these and other topics:

  1. Digital Citizenship
  2. Cyber Bullying
  3. Communicating Online
  4. Digital Etiquette
  5. Movie Reviews
  6. Following Your Digital Trail
The first year I taught we all watched a couple of videos together, discussed them, and created group posters to hang in the hallways.

The next year I tried something different. I gave all of the students headphones and allowed them to select their own videos to watch with a partner at a computer. The students loved selecting their own videos, but they watched all sorts of videos on high school levels to elementary school so that it resulted in all of them having different experiences with online digital citizenship learning.

I love the variety in teaching and aiming to perfect a lesson. Here's what I will try next. We will all watch a video together (they are all only two to five minutes long) and then I will direct them to a choice of a about five videos. Now, a few might stray a watch some of the enticing high school videos, but they can also log on at home and watch. I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, February 3, 2014

How to Engage in Social Media for Professional Learning

These days if you're in education and don't engage in social media, you might be missing out!

Social media not only allows you to connect and learn from other educators, but it helps in making you feel that you are not alone out there. No matter what kind of classroom you teach in, most of the time you are the ONLY adult in a room of (sometimes) screaming kids - and it can get lonely waiting for that 20-minute lunch period to connect with other adults.

So, get out there and get social!

Twitter - learn how to search for what you need and learn how to use hashtags. I have learned about so many websites and tech trends that I can hardly use them all. You can often hear about new trends here in the tech world and "meet" people doing the same thing that you are. Find out about scheduled chats and professional development that you can become involved in. It's a lot of fun and definitely doesn't feel like work!

Facebook - I have used Facebook to ask for donors for projects that can be crowd-sourced like donors

Donors Choose - This relatively new website allows teachers to dream up projects and ask the world - and  friends - to donor to your personal pet project. I have one out there right now for a 3D printer from MakerBot.

Pinterest - Almost every field of education is represented out there now on these pin boards. It's a great place to get new ideas and really cute ideas for all ages of student. A lot of teachers out there have better ideas than you do, but they would feel the same about you! So, get pinning and sharing!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where Books and Technology Meet: 20 Day Blog Challenge - Librarian Version!!

Where Books and Technology Meet: 20 Day Blog Challenge - Librarian Version!!: If you are like me, you have LOTS to share with the world.  You crave collaboration with others in your professional realm.  You look forwar...

One new trend in libraries is the idea of Makerspaces. Public libraries already have embraced this trend for the most part with lots of make-and-take activities. As a school librarian, I am ready to join the makerspace movement by making it work with our school curriculum.

One example of that would be getting a 3D printer and show students how to use an engineering program like OpenSCAD. This type of learning could combine with art, science, math, English and Social Studies. Designing and bringing something to life is enlightening and exciting for students. It's part of what makes learning fun. Students love being able to hold something in their hand and show it off-just like kindergarten...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Author Visit at IMS!

Author Christopher Morphew will be visiting Irondale Middle School on January 22!

Here is a link to a librarian interviewing Morphew. He is the author of The Phoenix Files and hails from Australia. We can't wait to hear what he has to say about Australia, his books and the writing process. Since it is summer in Australia right now, let's hold out hope for good weather next week - one thing that Alabama is known for!

Books will be for sale at the school that day and will be signed by the author.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Book That Has Had an Impact on Me Professionally

One book - out of many that I will write about later - that has had an impact on me is Steven L. Layne's Igniting A Passion For Reading.

This book is full of lists, charts, and ideas. One list is called the Someday Book List on page 79. This list is part of a whole section on "Shopping" which was on a Twitter Chat last night as well. The great thing about reading professional books is that you're always ready to contribute to the conversation not to mention getting great ideas for your library/school.

Before "shopping" for a book, the author discusses how she previews a book (p 77-8):

Front Jacket Flap
CIP Page
Back Jacket
Chapter Titles
Interior Graphics

I love this section and I would add my own "flip to the middle of the book" preview. I can tell a lot about a book and whether I will like it from the pace of the reading.

Layne's book features a "Books to Consider" list and where those ideas come from like:

From Shopping
From Book Chats
From Recommendations
From Read Arounds

Every time I flip through this book I find another idea that I have either forgotten about or have never tried.

Here's another chart from the book:

Self-Assessment Chart

Kids love being asked questions about themselves and they will fill out this self-assessment in a flash. 

If you don't where to start to self-assess, this book has the answers! It has at times made me realize what I am not doing!

There is no one thing that makes this book a career-turning one - it's just real and practical. One anecdote the author describes is as a 6th grade teacher some parents came in for a conference and berated their son for basically not being perfect and making straight As.The author says he buys books when he's upset and he immediately went to Barnes and Noble to buy books for the boy. He describes the conference that all teachers have experienced in one way or another - so it feels like you are speaking to a teacher friend and mentor who has the same ideas about teaching reading that you do.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Library Management Tip - for Nooks

I am a librarian who dives right in and figures out what works as I'm doing the thing I'm doing - like organizing Nook readers.

When we first were given 30 Nooks in the library, we weren't given a charging cart or too many directives on how we could manage them. Ideas and pictures were being passed around e-mail though.

And I have to say that to some people e-Readers are still pretty new and all sorts of librarians are constantly writing about their content, how it works, what publisher is adding what and so on.

Technology moves so fast that even the developlers of e-Readers were changing them as they launched their latest product. I still have a Sony reader in a drawer that wasn't as user-friendly as I wanted it to be, so I haven't gotten good use out of it. I still want to go back to it, but I have to keep moving forward at the same time. But I digress!

Just today I figured out a new way to keep up with my library's Nooks! The permission forms to use them have been in a folder - which is helpful - but I keep having to get it out since the Nooks have become popular.

My new management tip is to have the Nooks in order from 1 - 30 and slip the permission form into the spot of the missing Nook.

By slipping the paper in, I don't go into panic mode thinking that one has been taken!

Friday, January 10, 2014

How has Technology Changed in the Library and Effected the Librarian"s Duties?

In the last eight years alone technology in the library has changed tremendously. I have heard librarians joke around that 50 years ago they had a class on how to use the overhead projector. Okay, that is probably inaccurate and I did not check the invention year of the overhead, but I will! I still have a few in a back room for when an LCD projector (the ceiling mounted ones) dies and a teacher is desperate for an image projector! But wait - there's a digital one now.

Here's a short list of what has changed at my school in eight years:

1. Digital Elmo Projectors that project, photograph and video have been added to 33 rooms
2. Promethean boards are in 30 rooms
3. Digital cameras have been purchased
4. 30 Nooks available for checkout
5. LCD projectors added to 33 classrooms and two labs
6. 1 I-Pad available for use in the library
7. Every teacher has a laptop in his/her classroom

That's an enormous amount of technology change now that I have listed it out! What it means for the librarian is a lot of troubleshooting, maintenance, charging, and assisting teachers with set-up and occasionally help with the function keys. All of this is done with student help that teachers and librarians couldn't live without. So, thank you to the students!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Websites I Can't Live Without -

To all the librarians who are participating who are participating in the 20-day blog post challenge, I can't wait to see what you share!

I use lots of different websites like these listed below in order of least to most usage:

Technology for Teachers - Here's one that a lot of bloggers know about, but I just checked the site and must admit that I am kind of disappointed today. The guy who writes the blog is a teacher and listed Phrasal Stein as a good app to use.

I immediately went to the app on my i-Pad to download and there is only one review - which says to me that it really hasn't been used that much. The reviewer said, "it's a neat idea, but..." and I'll let you decide for yourself whether to use it or not.

The best thing about this website is that it gives you all the "hot technology" in one spot - especially if you are not a big techie. If you DO use technology a lot, you will have heard of the neat apps and websites listed here more often than not I have found.

Twitter - Lots of technology, teacher tips and parent tips come from Twitter. Just search for a hashtag and sort through what you find!

25 Best Technology Websites - The American Association of School Librarians website is THE best site for finding out about new technologies. That's where I found out about Edmodo before our district even became a user. There is technology here for every subject - and it's very cutting edge. Be the first to use it!

Google - Google is by far the best search engine to me and has the best apps on the web. I have tried Bing and Yahoo for general searches when I am not doing academic research and it's just not the same! Try it!

App-designing Challenge - Student Work
Makerspace Libraries - This is my fave website lately where I have been learning about turning libraries into makerspaces. Check it out or just do a Google search!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Organizational Tip for i-Pads

Okay, you may already love this tip, but I can't live without it!

In the library I have one i-Pad that students can use to play learning games and use for research.

One organizational tool I can't live without is organizing the Apps into folders! I have learning games, entertainment, foreign language and the like! I love it! There are a couple of dozen in the learning/education folder, so this keeps kids highly entertained and learning!

That's my tip for the day - organize everything into folders. By lightly pulling on the screen from the top, you can search for anything you need.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tech Tip for Managing My Library Visitors

Here is a tech tip I found to be very helpful in the library. Students drop in and out of the library all day long. Sometimes teachers even wonder where their students are if they take too long to come back and forth. That's partially why it is important to have a way to track library visitors.

Our library is lucky to have an i-Pad which is full of useful apps for math, science, English and Social Studies. DuoLingo is also loaded on the i-Pad for students to try out foreign language games.

To keep track of students, I loaded the app "Sign Up". The idea is not original and there are many different apps for students to sign in with. Sign Up works for quick data for me. There's also Sign In Lite and Please Sign In. My main preference is "free"!

Here is what it looks like - very simple! It's easy for middle school kids and it works for keeping track of names of visitors.

It could work for PTO moms as well if they are looking for parents to sign up for various things at school!