Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Darth Paper Strikes Back

I don't have that much to say about it other than GO. READ IT NOW, YOU SHOULD! Is that a good booktalk? Do you believe me?

What if I mention I think I laughed even more in this one than Origami Yoda.

Plus there really is more to the story than laughs. It's all about friends and bullying and being true to yourself.

T.A. is forgiven for signing my name wrong because of this pic.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's Monday! Again! Funny how they always seem to come around.

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now… who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!

Our Kid Lit to YA version is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

What I Read This Week
Darth Paper Strikes Back ... and that's about it!
(Great visit last week! I'll forgive Tom A. for signing my books to Mrs. O if there is a nice , single, elatively young, intelligent, funny man out there who's last name also starts with an O who reads this post and says hello!)

What I Will Read as Soon as Humanly Possible
finish Tuesdays at the Castle
Horton Halfpott
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again
The Fault in our Stars (Hey! Our library got a copy with a Hanklerfish! I should have ordered one.)

So my reading will increase a lot starting about mid-February. Craziness still to ensue until then. How did I get myself so overbooked? EEEEEK!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Origami Yoda in Our Neck of the Woods

Or ... our neck of the suburbs, really, is more appropriate. Welcome Tom Angleberger!

Had a third grade class in the library all day Wednesday to work on a research project and when they found out I was going to dinner with him and several other librarians? Immediate thoughts that Ms. O was awesome (-ly lucky but I'm going to stop it there).

I wore my Nerdy Book Club hoodie. It was too hot. I really should have gotten the t-shirt! But the hoodie is so nice and soft. We moved all the tables and chairs and pushed out the shelves. (More exercise than I've gotten lately ... maybe that's why I overheated! ;]) Tried our fancy shmancy new mic system and ... the range wasn't far enough for him to stand in front of where all the kids were going to sit. So we got out the ugly bulky one and then I went to meet him and the morning school librarian at Smashburger. (I am going to post this ... but I HATE having my picture taken. :[ I had to do it, though. The guy behind Origami Yoda! And Darth Paper!)
I should have used Picnik's skinny-fy function before it goes away. Oh and removed the glare from my glasses. But I didn't.  This is me. And Tom Angleberger! (On an unrelated note, I keep accidentally typing Anglerberger. Just noticed the library copy of The Fault in Our Stars that I checked out last week had an Hanklerfish!)

Never been there before. Mistakenly ordered the plain fries but they were still YUM-MY. As was the avacado club chicken sandwich that I got. Tom had the veggie burger and Missy (the other librarian) the mushroom and swiss. Oh. That sounds really good right now. Need to try that! But I get sidetracked.

First group came in and sat down. YES! They all fit and we weren't even quite as crowded as I thought we'd be. Tom didn't use the big ugly mike. Guy can project his voice just like a teacher who's been working in a classroom with no walls in the middle of a major school thoroughfare for years. But I know how exhausting that can be. Not a clone or storm trooper, but a trooper just the same.

This is the only pic where I just got the back of kiddos heads. Have to be so careful about that and it's hard!

Kids were so excited. SO excited. They laughed and laughed and now our hold list for the two books (and Horton Halfpott! which even though I would tell them was by the same author just didn't seem to move like it should have until this week!) is a mile long again. We sold more copies than we usually do for a Title I school, too.

He called most of the kids Larry or Lady Larry. Great idea. I have the hardest time remembering all 700+ names. This was one way to make it funny when he couldn't call them by name individually. He folded as he talked and drew as he talked and told them stories and thoughtfully answered questions. And donned a fake mustache. Younger kids walking by wished they were sitting in (they'll get Jerry Pallotta next week!) and asked me later (;]) why he was talking about peeing in pants. Because Origami Yoda saves the day, my friend. How many of us have not accidentally splashed water where no water should be?

And then he talked to a small group of kids. Made their day. Made some of their teacher's days. And then did it all again!

Gotta hand it to authors. I know it helps them, too, getting their books in the public eye. But so many of them really go the extra mile to connect with the kids and make a difference. The travel must be difficult. Must be really difficult. We had a MONSTER Texas thunderstorm one night that I bet kept him up. (We needed the rain. Serious drought. But we needed sleep, too!) It's really cool for the kids to get to meet an author. When did this tradition start? I remember going to something at an auditorium on the Johns Hopkins campus, I think (lived on the East Coast for a bit as an Army brat) and heard Louis Sachar speak. Still remember that.

Well. All day Friday people were telling me how much they enjoyed it and how they think he might very well have been their favorite author visit ever. Hooray! Success.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wonder Wednesday: How do they make eyeglasses?

I forgot to double check on this during school today (crazy busy! which is awesome!) so this is from Wikipedia. But I've double checked on a couple of the reference links and they look legitimate.

Glasses in one form or another have been around since about 1000 AD. Early Romans discovered that looking at things through a glass or vase of liquid would enlarge whatever it was they were looking at. Many people give an Italian credit in 1286 for inventing and using the first examples of eyeglasses. By 1301 there were laws about making and selling glasses. It was not until 1604 that anyone could explain WHY thin pieces of glass or plastic seemed to help people see better.

Oh. And another question this week? (Actually ... the ONLY other question. Our Wonders are just starting up and have been pretty slow. :/ But this one made me laugh.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

FINALLY! The Nooks go out.

But I don't have any pics. I am TERRIBLE at remembering to take pictures.

Last spring we received a grant to purchase 10 Nooks (and some ebooks to go on them).  We purchased two more with bookfair funds.

It's taken quite a while to get through all the red tape and district decision making. Frustrating but in the end understandable.

Lessons Learned So Far (yeah, it's only been two days!)
  • Only two of the Nooks came with plugs. The other 10 were USB cords only. I had to bring them all home and charge over the weekend because we don't have any walls or a locked office where we can leave them as they are charging. Have to be out totally in the open where it's way too easy for us to be looking the other way or helping a student on the other side of our space. I SO WISH we could have some outlets INSIDE of a locked cabinet. Would that not be most awesome?
  • Looking up books on Overdrive was kind of hard for the kids. They kept getting mixed up figuring out if a title was an ebook or a downloadable audiobook. I can see why. I mean, it's totally apparent to us but then again we're not in 5th grade. So I think for future book clubs I'll give them maybe 10 titles to look up and decide which ones they'd rather read from that. Too overwhelming to check out the entire catalog.
  • Transferring all the files takes a while. Had to set aside a good hour. I think I'll get faster at it. Figured out to have a spreadsheet with the circ tag number, their name, their student ID numbers, and their two book choices. That will go faster next time.
  • Put a second barcode on the Nook boxes. For now they are going out in a case inside a box. When the boxes fall apart? Not sure.
  • The kids were SO excited to have access to different titles!
  • Sometimes those new titles were confusing to them. An example was a book ... I can't remember the name but the gist was about two girls falling in love. Now I can understand the need for stories in middle and high school. But I really don't think I was censoring to say a 5th grader doesn't need that yet. Will I always have time to double check on content? And if they're looking at home? I guess it's where you teach the kiddos well, once you've started reading, if something happens that makes you uncomfortable or goes against your family beliefs then stop reading! So having access to the entire Overdrive collection was hard for them.
  • They thought it was super cool that you could look up new words so easily, as well as put in bookmarks or make notes or highlight.
  • They still have lots of questions. Had kiddos come in and interrupt lessons asking questions about their Nooks.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Picture Books I've Been Reading

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK. So I already had to love this one just for the cover. The poor chameleon just looks so dejected!

But then the rest of the book is also lots of fun. A super quick read but you'll spend time going back over the pictures.

"I'm Not Santa!" by Jonathan Allen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been on an owl kick lately. I can see today's library haul or wait list (several of Jonathan Allen's books) is not going to make that "kick" go away any time soon.

Baby Owl is a cutey!

And I just love the way he talks ... especially near the end of the story when he's telling his mama about his adventures. Run-on sentences galore but they sound just like a breathless little kid telling a story.

11 Experiments That Failed11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great read aloud for modeling the scientific method. Well. If you preface it with "KIDS, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME."

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's (almost) Monday! Again!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now… who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!

Our Kid Lit to YA version is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

What I Read This Week
The Future of Us
Over and Under the Snow
and ... that's about it

Coming Up

Darth Paper Strikes Back (ACK! T.A. will be at my school on Thursday and I haven't read it yet!)
Tuesdays at the Castle
books by Jerry Pallotta (he will be talking to the K-2 kiddos in about two weeks)

January was supposed to be my get my Netgalley queue under control. Still have quite a few. Plus a maxed out holds list at the public library.
Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland
Spellbound (book two of the Shadows series)

I really, really hope I can get more in but ugh. Not super efficient with my time so things that shouldn't take so long just do. And there's a lot to do.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Over and Under the Snow

Over and Under the SnowOver and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, this one is ever so lovely.

The youngest kiddos will enjoy it for the pictures--the pretty ice blues, snow whites, steel greys, brick reds and cocoa browns.
K-2 will want to read or listen to it because they love to learn about animals and there are lots of interesting ones in this book! The added "brrr" factor is pretty cool, too. (OH! Pun unintended.)
3-5 will love it for the poetic (even while it's sharing factual information) language. The opening lines begin "Over the snow I glide. Into woods, frosted fresh and white."

Older students, teachers, and adults will love it for all of the above.

I'd like to see something similar for other areas. I wonder how the idea could be adapted to, say, south Texas? Could be a nice model text and then have a class each choose something about a local area to research and write about.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fast Five Friday: February Favorites

These are some fun ones we like to read around our library classroom this time of year. I'm planning ahead a bit (never mind that not all of next week is ready ;]).

rubber stamp letter F e - detail - rust print rubber stamp handle letter b R rubber stamp letter  u letter A R rubber stamp letter Y

Jennifer Jones Won't Leave Me Alone! (by Frieda Wishinsky)--so cute. This little girl doesn't get nervous about letting the little boy know she likes him. And hey ... not to spoil the ending but it works!

Splat in Love (by Rob Scotton)--I don't love all of the Splat books but for this one I make an exception. Splat is nervous to give Kitten a valentine but she ... I don't remember exactly but it goes something like "rubs his fur and pokes his belly, ties his tail and calls him smelly." Why? Seymour doesn't know. Do you?

How to Talk to Girls (by Alec Greven)--Love to use this one as a writing lesson. Written by a fourth grader! (With some later editing, I'm sure, but still. ;]) I still remember when we first got a couple copies in the library. Word started spreading and fourth and fifth grade boys would come in all red-faced and embarrassed and ask me "Do you have that book?"

Bubba the Cowboy Prince (by Helen Ketteman)--a retelling of Cinderella. I don't mean to be stereotypical but as a cowboy drawl is the only "accent" I can do I love reading this one every year.

The Jalapeno Man (by Debbie Leland)--this one makes us all laugh. The illustration could have improved a little but the idea? For those of us who are ... shall we say deep in the heart? Priceless.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Word Warriors

Any ideas on how to teach third graders how to play games like Bananagrams and Scrabble? Thought it would be fun to have a morning "club" but they are just not quite ... getting it.

They are great kiddos but they just sort of sit there. Don't even see "dog" or "cat" even when the letters are right in front of them. :/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/fmckinlay/6696964071/ ... thanks f_shields 'cause I forgot to take a pic this morning!

I keep wondering if I shouldn't start some sort of ... I don't know. Start with word families or something? All the different words that end in -ad or whatever? My secondary Spanish teaching background is not helping me here. Got myself in to this and I do really think it would have to be good for them if I can only structure it properly.

I'm the only adult there and can't always be with them because at the same time I'm also trying to produce the morning announcements. I am there at least 80% of the time, though.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Water Cycle Stations

These are just a start but I thought I'd share. Second grade has been coming and doing some of these activities. No one finishes all of them but that's OK, too. Ideas to make them better? Comments, please!

(Nice bulletin board, no? But no. I didn't make it. Thank you to CC licenses and Flickr user MissKPrimary for sharing!)

First of all we started out singing (and, let me tell you, Ms. O is not particularly fond of singing in our library space with no walls, everyone in the school and their dog walking through, and having to use a microphone. Not fond at all. But the kids liked it) from the book There Goes the Water, by Laura Purdie Salas.

Vocabulary: this was an easy way to have them start a simple practice with an online dictionary. We made sure to discuss at the end of the activity what was easier and what was harder about a print versus an electronic dictionary. They totally got it. IF they spelled it perfectly the screen opened right to their definition. That's a big IF.

Storytime: I just picked out a bunch of different picture books that had something to do with water, rain, or snow. Kiddos filled out a story elements organizer.

Non-Fiction Text Features: I have a couple of series that we pulled relevant titles from. The only one I can remember off the top of my head is Bridgestone Books' Weather Update. We just finished talking (in the library, anyway) about text features so this was a good review. The table of contents and indexes are easy to find. Print size is pretty big and there are plenty of captions and pictures to look at.

Bookmark Making: I used the pattern found on Today in First Grade's blog (scroll down just a bit) and copied it at 50% (so that I could get two sets from one sheet of paper). I made a template with four squares (sorry ... don't have that one) that went down half of a sheet of paper set in portrait mode (again, so that I could get two from one sheet ... I copied those onto blue). I precut the snowman squares but you could have kids do that themselves if you're willing to deal with the mess.

So I started making a simple math one for average rainfall. But it never got finished. :/

Wonder Wednesday: Washington and the Dollar Bill

Remember that Wonderopolis does the BEST job of this sort of thing. This is just my little attempt to start. At least this time I've got pics! No video. Still working on that.

So this is a board that went up for a Leader in Me visit in December (and, let's be honest, will probably stay up through the visit in February, too!)

The posters are from a Picturing America grant.

Anyway. One of the "wonders" in the bubbles around the side? Said this ...

Why is George Washington on the dollar bill? Well, student who shall remain nameless, let me tell you what I found. It's not a totally complete answer yet but that's the fun of research. You can keep looking.

First of all, the first person to be on the front of a one dollar bill wasn't even actually Washington. It was Salmon P. Chase. He worked as Secretary of the Treasury under Abraham Lincoln. Before the Civil War the United States used a different kind of paper money than we do now. Different banks all issued different kinds of money! They just had to have gold or silver to back it up. During the Civil War laws changed and banks were required to all use the same type of paper currency. Soon after, in 1869, in fact, the first portrait of Washington showed up on the dollar bill. Christopher Columbus was on there as well! No one really says why but most people guess because it was during a time of war when the country was trying to stay together that they wanted the "first" national money to remind users of our "first" president.

I found some information on Wikipedia (I DOUBLE CHECKED THE SOURCES! Because as you know some things are right and some are not). If you are interested in money the US Mint has a GREAT site for kids called HIP Pocket Change. HIP stands for History in your Pocket. Check our databases for more information. Keywords you might use are "Washington," "dollar," or "currency." You can also check the shelves. Books on the history of money are found in the 332.4 section and we've also got one specifically on the history of the PICTURES on money under 769.5 PAR.

Monday, January 16, 2012

February Type Bookmarks

Just tried some different ones. I'm starting to get the hang of this. Starting, mind you. These should copy a little better because they're in black and white. Once again, the polka dot border was a free download from Karen Cox's TPT store. Arctic Animals clip art from Scrappin' Doodles and Valentine bears from KPM Doodle's Etsy store. Font from ... I don't know where. :/

One day I'll figure out the embeddable thumbnails. These are all arctic type animals. Get them here.
Valentine bears can be found here.

PS If anyone can think of better sayings to put on them I'm all ears. Had a hard time with the walrus. Or maybe book quotes are better and the terrible puns need to stop.

It's Monday!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now… who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!

Our Kid Lit to YA version is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

What I Read This Week
Eye of the Storm
Marty McGuire #1 (LOVED IT!)
Al Pha's Bet
The Wonder Book
This Plus That: Life's Little Equations
Rebel Fire

Coming Up (and this is totally unrealistic considering my school schedule ... but a girl can dream!)
The Future of Us
Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland
Mr. Creecher
Tuesday at the Castle
various and assorted picture books!
whatever else I might get distracted by

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Eye of the Storm

Eye of the StormEye of the Storm by Kate Messner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just finished this last night ... and it was a nail biter!

As a fan of dystopian fic I'm glad to see a newer one that we could put in the elementary library. I would say later fourth grade or fifth ... there is just a TAD (only a tad) of romance so I don't think it's a third grade book.

And the kiddos probably would need a reminder that some of what is portrayed in the book is not possible. Yet. (And hopefully never!)

But I like how it incorporates students who are proficient in science (both girls and boys) and makes that OK. And it does talk a lot about some real meteorological principles. So a book group might be able to do a bit of fact and fiction comparisons, among other things.

Just Skyped with the author on Friday (more about Marty McGuire than this one but we did touch on it). Such a great opportunity. Looking forward to more of her work!

View all my reviews

Rebel Fire

Rebel Fire (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins #2)Rebel Fire by Andy Lane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this one a lot, even if it often strayed into the unbelievable. Sherlock manages to get himself, Matty, and Virginia out of many a scrape. Would be totally gross to see parts of it in a movie ... but it made for some of the most interesting parts of the book.

Some reviewers are really good at talking about the book without giving away spoilers. I'm not one of them yet. I'll just say if you like Sherlock Holmes at all (or grand adventure tales) then go ahead and pick up this series. You won't regret it.

View all my reviews


So I'm still playing around with learning how to create COOLER than just plain old Word type documents and after seeing this post on The Centered School Library about booktalking from the circ desk I thought I'd give it a try.

Granted, this is really only good for you if a raccoon fits your personality ... but still.

And ... every YouTube tutorial I find about embedding a thumbnail of a google doc looks different than my google doc. There is nowhere where it gives me embed code. So that is still on the "to learn" list. Hey. I got my anchor points for my presentation pages. I'm still feeling pretty good!

You can download it here. The polka-dot border came from Karen Cox's TPT store (a free download) and the raccoon from Scrappin' Doodles. The font is called Hurry Up and I'm afraid I have no idea where I got that one from. Oops.

May make some more if I can stop sneezing long enough. The one I have up in my library is actually an owl but that one I don't have a license to repost. Have to stick to my Scrappin Doodles. Do I have a KPM Doodles one that might work? I will have to go check!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sneezy Saturday and Book Talk

Dumb cedar. DUMB cedar. Now on to the book stuff.

Yesterday a third grade class and I got to Skype with Kate Messner. It was so much fun. Thank you, Kate! (Like she'll ever see this but it's good to be polite out there in the cyberverse, no?) I'm in the middle of the ARC for Eye of the Storm and enjoying it. I know all the librarians in my district are tired of me sending out emails but when I noticed I was the only one with Marty McGuire in the collection I had to call upon at least some of them to rectify that situation. We got to hear a sneak peek of the next Marty in the chat. FUN!

Without meaning to I got three Amy Krause Rosenthal books from the library in one trip. They all came in at once. I am a library hold addict. Always keep it at the max and sometimes have to beg my mom or sister to put things on hold for me. ;]

This Plus That: Life's Little EquationsThis Plus That: Life's Little Equations by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think my favorite might have been "anything + sprinkles = better." Or, more importantly, "practice + practice = learning" and "practice + practice + practice = mastering." Or "chores / everyone = family." Or "good days + bad days = real life."

I have a lot of favorites.

Love the illustrations as well.

The Wonder BookThe Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I'm going to call this poetry although it's not all, exactly. "Typical Day" asks some of the funny and unrealistic (or, realistic, depending on which meaning you are talking about) a kiddo might ask during the day and the "yes" and "no" answers they usually get.

My favorite picture was the one where all the kids are in the tree wondering about things.

I did not know that "Was it Eliot's toilet I saw?" was a palindrome. Who thinks up these things? ;]

Lovely pen and ink drawings.

Al Pha's BetAl Pha's Bet by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't mean to do so many AKR books in one day. Just turned out that way. The pictures are fun, and the story is, too (the fact that there is a story and it ties together is a change from many abc books!). It just won't be my favorite abc story ever. Doesn't mean it won't be someone else's. Enjoy!

View all my reviews

PS I am pretty proud of myself (I know, all it took was some googling of the right keywords to get the code ... but CODING < FUN) for figuring out how to get a bit of a table of contents on my presentation pages. It's still not perfect (instead of just scrolling down to the portion of the page it opens up a new window right at that portion of the page ... but it's a start!) but I have to know that neither of the conference presentations or the webinar are probably going to go perfectly. Just prepare as best I can and be happy with that!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fast Five Friday: Calm a Frazzled Librarian's Heart

It happens to all of us. Please say it happens to all of us? We get what we think are brilliant instructional ideas, or brilliant professional development ideas, or even brilliant personal ideas. And then just like when you put books on hold five weeks apart at the library and they all come in at once ... all of the "brilliant" ideas come together to create utter chaos.

So ... while I really don't want a bunch of desserts (even though sometimes you'll see me sneak some chocolate), today's Fast Five will be ways to help a librarian chill out when he or she has overdone it.

1) The tech is slow. SLOW. And of course one of the four stations to work on today is using an online dictionary. Pop in with "That's OK, Ms. O. We know we don't have 4G technology."

2) After having just gone through five or six students who didn't like anything come up and mention how much you liked a book. Doesn't even have to be one I recommended (but it's extra cool when it is).

3) Get as geek thrilled excited as I do when checking out a new title, a new tech tool, a cool research topic, or a new blog comment. GEEK THRILLS, PEOPLE.

4) Draw me a picture where you took some time. Could be your rendition of the Wimpy Kid, or Olivia, the scary hag from The Last Apprentice, or your dog Rover. Doesn't matter, I'll love them all.

5) Once in a while, let me take a nap out in my car during lunch. I know. How weird is that.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Calvin & Hobbes

I miss them. I would like this.

Wonder Wednesday

Well. I had every intention of taking a picture of the kiddos' Abraham Lincoln and George Washington "wonders" (bulletin board for "Leader in Me" visit ... it's a long story) but did it get done? Nope. Maybe I'll save them for February. That's really when we think about them, right?


So for this post I will tour the Wonderopolis site for a bit. Bear with me. :]

A couple days ago the question was What makes a pyramid? This ties right in to the recent announcement about the title for book three in the Kane series. Always been a fan of stories related to ancient Egypt. Need to show this to the 4th and 5th graders.

Or maybe this one. Why are sodas fizzy? Check out the video! And then ... maybe limit your soda intake. Says someone who has like quadrupled her intake the past couple of weeks. Oops.

Here's another interesting one. How hot is lava? I foresee hearing that question on Friday as we begin "rapid changes to the earth's surface" with 3rd grade. Yep. Volcanoes would definitely qualify.

And now I must go back to re-editing my Photo/Picture Editing page. Upgrades are needed.

Or maybe I'll finish Eye of the Storm. Or start Marty McGuire. Talking to the class on THURSDAY about our Skype chat on FRIDAY.

Dear Gym, I know I desperately need to visit you. Maybe if I can even get caught up to only a day or two behind I'll be OK. In order to get me to the gym at 5 in the morning I would need ... significant incentive. Like someone dragging me out of bed. And making my lunch. And planning. And shelving. And getting my way behind PR materials for district grant finished. And way behind Overdrive order for foundation grant finished. And ebook wish list finished. And washing my car. And doing my taxes. And my grocery shopping. Motivation, wherefore are thou?

PS As I write this it's Tuesday night. When it goes live I will be reading the Red Sled and The First Day of Winter to a little Spanish-speaking PreK class. Fun! They're very patient with my doable but not perfect Spanish. :]

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's Monday!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!

Our Kid Lit to YA version is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

What I Read This Week
Traitor in the Tunnel (WOW! I LOVED THIS MYSTERY, TOO! What luck! Two books in the first week of the year that were most awesome. It's a good sign.)
Legend (I don't mean to not virtually shout about this one. I quite enjoyed it as well.)

Next Week's Adventures
I'm well in to Eye of the Storm, so I'm sure I'll finish that one.
OH! And I need to read the first Marty McGuire book because a 3rd grade class at my school is skyping with the author on Friday and I don't want to look out of the loop. ;]
Then ... The Future of Us.
Also the Nic Bishop Lizards book. And a couple Jerry Pallotta books because he will actually be on our campus in a couple of weeks and we're going to start talking about them in the library.
Speaking of author visits ... I really need to get Darth Paper read because he will, too. Maybe just get my own copies so I can get them signed. The library copies have been out and about among the kiddos since they first were added to the collection months ago!

So my post is lazy again with no links or cover pics. I'm working on it. Always have an excuse ... sleepiness or cedar fever or whatever. Steps. This blog is a work in progress. ;]

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Also loved the Traitor in the Tunnel!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved it. Even in the throes of stupid cedar fever and wanting to scratch my eyes out I loved it. Great characters. Great plot twists. Can't tell you about my favorite parts because they would be serious spoilers. :]

If you like period pieces at all then you have to read this series. Read 'em in order.

And ... more, please? Please? Was just talking to some kiddos at school today about how not all books need to be a series. But I want more!

I Loved the Red Sled!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, I so enjoyed this one. I think it may go somewhere on my list of top wordless (or ... almost wordless, anyway) books of all time.

And I don't even like snow. It's cold. The wind makes my nose runny.

But the few words (onomatopoeias for the sounds feet make when moving through snow) are perfect. And the illustrations are perfect. And since I was already digging the bright red with white and ice blue ( No Two Alike) why not continue that streak?

Versatile Blogger

What a total nerd thrill. Seriously. First it was the awards and then new comments from the Comment Challenge. YAY! I cried a little bit. Well. It was from scratching at my eyes (I will stop harping on this soon but I HATE CEDAR!) but a little bit from geek happiness, too. ;]

Now. On to the more important stuff.

Lemme Library and Ms. Yingling. Thank you. I love learning about what you are doing in your necks of the woods! Love it! I steal ideas and books all the time. Thanks for making me look good. I do say "I got this idea from one of my Internet Library Friends." :]

Here are the rules:
•Thank and link to the blogger who bestowed the award.
•Share seven random facts about yourself (see below).
•Spread the love by passing the award to five other bloggers--and be sure to let them know.

  • Cari at The Centered School Library--know her personally and LOVE her stuff!
  • Sherry at A Tale of Two Libraries--know her, too, and wish she wasn't quite so busy and would update more! She had some great views on what she's going through this year. I instant message her during the day for ideas. Perhaps if I didn't distract her ... ;]
  • Shannon at Extreme Reading and Writing--just "met" her via NerdyBookClub and What Are You Reading? Monday and like her style.
  • Sarah at Page in Training. She was one of the first people I actually sort of talked to a little bit on Twitter besides Kelly B. instead of just reciprocal following. For a fairly introverted person it was fun for me to find new people to get ideas from/share ideas with.
  • Hemmed and hawed a little on this one because I don't know her and didn't want her to think I was some ... wierdo. BUT I love her blog and have gotten some great ideas (those monthly stats? One day I will get disciplined enough to gather them because they tell a great story about what's going on in her space!) Mrs. Mattei.

Seven Random Facts (This could get interesting. Five is usually my limit. Plus I'm always pretty random so most of the even semi-interesting stuff has already been posted. ;])

1) I love Converse low-top tennis shoes. I have ... 7 pairs? 8? The Ox ones offer a little more support for long work days (yes, I know ... not the best professional choice at ALL but my Mary Jane Crocs are dead and they don't make them any more and other "cute" and "professional" shoes? By the end of the day I'm hobbling around like an old lady. Not acceptable, either.)


2) Chocolate and peanut butter. Chocolate and mint. Chocolate and hazelnut. Chocolate and graham. Chocolate and cinnamon. Do you sense a DANGEROUS pattern here?

3) One of the few "girly" things about me (I mean, I do wear dresses and skirts and all but just because I usually prefer Star Wars and Converse and scifi/fantasy) ... I LOVE the Anne of Green Gables series and all of L. M. Montgomery's other stuff. Read them like a bazillion times. Haven't in a while. Need to pick Anne back up. One of my sisters (the other one has younger kiddos and we're not patient enough to wait until they're old enough! Sorry, Aubs!) and I are planning a trip to PEI. Probably not this summer cause our dad is retiring from the Army and travel plans include that ... but next year sometime.

4) I have been to ... Mexico, British Columbia, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, France, and Morocco. Would love to go back to England and spend some time in the countryside ... most of my time there was in London. Was genuinely bummed out when no good looking Scottish man came around the corner and swept me off my feet like here.

Oh, wait. Liking this is pretty girly, too, isn't it.

5) I am not very organized. I love organization supplies (hence my Fast Five Friday post) but I am rubbish at putting them to use. THIS IS THE YEAR THAT CHANGES. Plus ... I'm an information professional. It is unacceptable to be so disorganized. And yet, the piles. Oh, the piles.

6) I named my first car Wesley after ... well, do you know who after? If you do you are awesome! My second car I named after my physical trainer in hopes that the guilt over all that money would inspire me to continue working out after I quit working out with him. It didn't work. Should I say ... yet? Feel so much better when I'm active but BLAH it's boring while I'm doing it.

7) I have never read a Junie B or a Magic Treehouse book. THERE I SAID IT. I CAN'T STAND THEM. Nor have I read half of our state list books. I do read a lot, though. Just let me pick out my own stuff, OK? I do try to keep up on the ideas about other books so I can talk to kiddos that I think will like them. But I don't. I hope that's not hypocritical.

(And, btw, I am wondering if this post is going to look different because I finally tried to tie BACK together the two Google accounts associated with this blog ... some update Google did a while back made me have to separate the two and it was really annoying and frustrating. Note to self ... next time you get a domain name do it the easy way right through blogger instead of the harder way.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fast Five Fridays

Wow. Cedar, you are outdoing yourself this year. I will be back to properly acknowledge the ... "givers"? "Bestowers" of the Versatile Blogger Award? Hopefully this weekend.

For tonight (well, really tomorrow as I'm scheduling it) ... a Fast Five Favorite. For now. Topic will change every week (sometimes books, sometimes teaching, and maybe even something else entirely). I might even do something else entirely. Just want to keep the groove going. Maybe the successful groove can translate back into exercise mojo.

Five Favorite Organizational Supplies I Am Going to Use This Year
HA! They look pretty, at least.
1) Brightly colored PostIts. I'm attempting to use them as an organizational tool this year ... cause apparently before I just liked to buy them and stuff them in a drawer. Got quite a collection. But NO pastels and not even the sort of lame generic yellow. Go loud or go home on the colored PostIts. I have pages in a notebook for Work and Person, To Do, Doing, and Waiting On. And anything else I might decide. Ripping the Postit Note out is just as good as crossing it off of the list but leaves behind less visual clutter. Ask me in a couple weeks if it is still a doable system. Feels prehistoric to need a hard copy and not be able to do it on my phone but oh well. ;]


2) Sharpies
Bold colors. NEW Crayolas also work but not if they are fading. These are like the only two ways I'm bold. Office supplies. Sharpies

3) My new laminator purchased on an Amazon lightning deal. Why? I don't get the appeal but it is so nerdily satisfying to encase little teaching things in plastic thereby making whatever color it might have been POP. The whole process is so environmentally unfriendly of me. :[

4) Big Paper Clips. No little ones. Big ones. They are good for clipping papers, unbending and hanging things from the ceiling, unbending and poking into safety catches on ridiculous old dumb school laminators that never work any more! And other things.

5) Glue Sticks. You can MAKE COOL STUFF and not make a big mess. Or, actually, I lie. I've seen big messes made with glue sticks. But they are not as bad as liquid glue. Though liquid glue mixed with water is good for decoupaging. Containers make good organization. Decoupaged containers make prettier organization.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday

But do to some rotten timing the deepest thoughts I'm capable of at the moment are how much I'd like the cedar pollen to GO AWAY. But ... did y'all see? THANK YOU MRS. YINGLING! A blog award. Will be reciprocating soon. And you were so very correct in that I might think the book you were reviewing looked awesome. Right now I am going to find my Zyrtec and Nasonex and Tylenon Sinus/ Do they make a Tylenol Sinus Nighttime? That would be the coolest. Trying to cram inventory in before several cool research projects that will be starting next week, as well as some book/tech orders coming in. Hope everyone else had some good thoughts today. Will work on making it better next week. Actually, by next week it could change to something else. Thrilling Thursday or something. We'll see. Still sort of deciding and finding my niche.
I don't know this little girl. And I didn't even read the article it links to. Just trying to use more images in posts and Pinterest makes it easy because (to some extent, anyway) it does the citing for you. ;] *going to gouge my eyes out now* DIE CEDAR DIE!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wonder Wednesday

This one ought to last EVEN LONGER *insert sarcastic face here* because eventually it will require me to get on video. Which ... = blech.

But. How many of you know of Wonderopolis? Maybe everyone. I just discovered them last summer. Tie that in to the awesome professional book A Place for Wonder and you have a goal that has had a slow start this school year but I am determined to not give up entirely on.

I run the morning announcements so every Wednesday we've taken something from their site. And I created a big bulletin board in the hall where it had the question printed and in a sheet protector pinned up to the board and kiddos lifted it up to see the condensed answer version inside. Do I have pictures? No. Can't take one tomorrow, either, because just before the break I did have to change it out for a special "visit" we were having for working toward Lighthouse School status. I will change it back in a bit, though. And I could possibly still take a pic because I put up the two posters of Lincoln and Washington from the Picturing America series and titled it ... something about leaders. Now I can't remember. Then I put up a couple of questions I had about them along with some blank bubbles and kiddos have filled in their own wonders.

In my HEAD I was going to get the kids thinking about questions of their own. Submit them to me and I'd make a little video blog about the answer and HOW I FOUND the answer. After a bit I really wanted to get the KIDS answering the "wonders." Since learned that I am slow in implementing ideas and the timeline might take a little longer than I thought. I guess that's OK.

I wonder what this guy is thinking about?

Tech Tip Tuesday

Shall we see how long this lasts? But I thought I'd try it out.

Right now I'm playing a lot with Picnik (in preparation for my presentation!).

Why Picnik? PR for the library. I've used it to edit lots of photos (when I remember to take photos :/) for book trailers, my school webpage, our digital picture frame, or just for posting around the library.

1) I personally think it's a lot easier to "stamp" images with sources in Picnik than it is in Paint. Of course that may just be me. But yay for crediting sources! And yay for the speech balloons and my Piggie and Elephant stop motion book trailer (see my Picture Editing page ... it's embedded there)!

2) It's a lot easier for beginners than any version of Photoshop will ever be to enhance or improve images.

3) I am just discovering how to use it for subway-type (text) art. You saw an example of that a couple of posts ago with my goals.

I have only ever used the free version. I'm tempted to go for the Pro since it's only what ... about $25 a year and it would add several more "effects" as well as fonts and stamps. I already have Photoshop Elements, iPhoto, and Aperture for heaven's sake. Don't know how to use them properly.

Anyway. I am not one to reinvent the wheel when other people have already created it. Here are a few YouTube tutorials that may help you. Ugh I am not a fan of searching YouTube. So much good stuff. AND so much blechy stuff. :/

Resizing Images

Adding Text

Make a Collage (Oh! Check out their entire channel.)

Stations Ahead

Expect to see some of these in action over the next couple of months. Hers and mine. :]

The Centered School LibraryThe Centered School Library by Cari Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK. In all fairness I do know the author ... BUT that just makes me more excited to implement some of the ideas in this book. I've seen that they work (and heard through the district grapevine :]).

Like a lot of Upstart books many of the pages are reproducibles that I won't end up using. That's OK. I retype or tweak things to work in my situation. Or one idea from the book sparks another.

I just ordered some of these little recorders to set up at some of the stations.

She suggests some ideas like ABC order, some genre, some book review or book wish list, etc as well as offers some ideas on other ones like book related puzzles.

It's pretty simple but I think my favorite part of it was just the planning page. Helped m e wrap my head around the whole thing.

Make sure to check out her blog.

View all my reviews

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's Monday!

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…who knows, you might discover that next “must read” book!

Our Kid Lit to YA version is hosted by Teach Mentor Texts.

Last Week I Read:

The Notorious Benedict Arnold
*The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman
*Polly's Pink Pajamas   (but more for my niece's reaction than the book, really)
Danny's First Snow
Barnum Brown
*Peter Nimble
A Wizard from the Start
The Adventures of Mark Twain
The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin
The Boy Who Invented TV
*The Apothecary
* means favorites ... and you can tell it was a vacation week, can't you?

The Coming Week's Adventures
I am going to catch up on my Netgalley ARCs this month. First up?
YS Lee's The Traitor in the Tunnel (I LOVE a good Victorian England mystery!)
Kate Messner's Eye of the Storm
Andrew Lane's Rebel Fire

Already Thought It Through ...

and I will go with this. Not super happy with this brown but hey, it's the thoughts that count. Not the color display. Plus ... this is only my second try at printable type editing! ;]

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hey, There's a Net Galley Month.

And I have quite a few I need to clear out. So ... Here I am! Declaring my intention. Thank you to the blogger who thought of it!
Now. I clicked some button to try out the "new" Blogger interface and am now totally befuddled looking all over at all the different places things are. Not sure I like it. :/
The Fingertips of Duncan DorfmanThe Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this one. You totally can't judge it on what the "fingertips" of Duncan might or might not be able to do because that part is a little weird.

And it's not just about Duncan. Several other characters add to the story.

Really ... it's all about middle school kids (but could be read by like 4th and up) finding their way. Being able to make their own choices, accepting their own choices, and discovering that others sometimes don't make the best choices. And sometimes you still accept them.

The Scrabble tips were sort of a fun plus. Says this Words With Friends player who loses. A lot. :/

Almost forgot ... a couple of quotes I liked:

"Another time, when they were walking home from school in the fall and kept stopping to step on particularly crunchy-looking leaves, Lucy asked, 'How come humans love the sound of leaves crunching? We go out of our way to hear it, to feel it. Why is it so insanely satisfying?'" (p 33 ... and really does not have much to do with the storyline but that's one reason I liked it!)

"Why couldn't her family understand the thrill of Scrabble, the excitement when you won a game, or even when you made an amazingly interesting word?" (p 83)

View all my reviews
The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & TreacheryThe Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'll call it juvenile non-fic but just know that this is a biography of a great war hero ... and a great war criminal. There is death and dying and violence in the book.

Benedict Arnold was both at the same time ... did I know that before? Apparently I need to brush up on my American history.

Anyway. I did enjoy it. Just not sure if I will get a copy for our school collection. If I worked in a middle school ... for sure. I would because it's well researched and written and interesting. For elementary, though? Got some (not to be prejudicial but the ones I'm thinking of are boys) who might enjoy it. Will have to look at more reviews and see what the recommended age ranges are.

View all my reviews

Some Thoughts ... Both Library and Personal

And if I put the next one here ... I will be more likely to think on it in the next couple of days and really be able to come back to you with an answer.