Sunday, April 29, 2012

What Are You Reading?

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.
Check out all of the What Are You Reading? participants for awesome title ideas.

This Week's Adventures

On the Day I Died: Stories from the GraveOn the Day I Died: Stories from the Grave by Candace Fleming
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Also read through NetGalley. This would be a great middle school choice. Recognized some of these legends while others were new. At least to me. ;)

How to Teach a Slug to ReadHow to Teach a Slug to Read by Susan Pearson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kids will like the pictures but they may not "get" the irony in the illustrations and book titles. I'm going to recommend it to parents, though, cause it really does give some great tips that would transfer well to helping teach to teach their children how to read.

Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls, #5)Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I could give like a three and a half or three and three quarters I would. Anything Ally Carter does is worth reading. Her books and characters are so much fun! Girls that are strong and brave and smart and creative. Yes, there might be a cute boy around but he doesn't HAVE to be. They are just handy partners. Like it should be.

Though ... I was pretty confused through the beginning. I obviously should have reread number four cause I just wasn't remembering a lot of it.

Seriously. This entire series along with Heist Society is just BEGGING to be made into a movie. Too much fun action and great settings (thinking of a cliff climb). Just be sure to not make it too teenybopperish and I'm all for it.

Senorita GorditaSenorita Gordita by Helen Ketteman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Apparently I liked this one more than many others. That's OK. No, the rhymes are not all great. But I enjoyed several lines and the illustrations. And to be fair ... I am a Texan. A forfeits does sound pretty tasty. ;)

Variant (Variant, #1)Variant by Robison Wells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit ... I wasn't totally convinced I liked this story.

Until the very end.

I'll be back. Question for the book's characters ... is who else will be returning in book two?

View all my reviews

And Next Week?
I still need to finish Throne of Fire. Why is it taking so long? I've owned the book since it came out. I got sidetracked last summer. And now? I guess because it's easier to pick up a book that is 200 something pages because I know I'll finish it pretty quickly. Even if in a week I end up reading 600 pages ... it was over three to five books! So if I don't ... it will definitely be one of the first ones I finish come summer. Along with Serpent's Shadow. I've had that one preordered since January. Don't take my tardiness for not enjoying them cause ... they're awesome!

Picked up a couple cool looking non-fic books at the library yesterday. Curious Critters, Secrets of Civil War Submarines, and Here Come the Girl Scouts.

I have several books on hold still. Will see if one of them comes in. If not? Have some books in the Netgalley queue. Ashen Winter, One Year in Coal Harbor, and Unspoken.

And now I'm going to take some Nyquil. Yes. Again. Seriously. Since I became a teacher? And (sadly) more specifically an elementary school librarian? Immune system of ... whatever has the least helpful immune system. Can't take the day off cause there is too much to do and they don't get me a sub. And they keep pulling my assistant. People still expect the library to run like two people are working their full time when really? It's only one full time any more. Then one part time ... and you can never count on when that part time might be. Is it terrible to say I've discovered I don't much care for circulation? Let me be out in the shelves helping kids find books. Not behind the desk scanning. Blah on scanning. Looking at a self service station for next year but even that takes monitoring. :/

Mulling over ideas for a Piggie and Elephant party for PreK (cause they LOVE the dance game ... we're going to have to pull out tables and let them dance!). Pete the Cat for kinder and first. And some sort of "green" summer reading journal. Like make covers out of cereal boxes and then some cool SIMPLE logs and prompts on the inside? Only what to give the ones who finish when you have no budget ...


Cinco de mayo bookmarks

Whew! It's almost May. Just love testing weeks. Not. But I won't get on that soapbox.

Made some quick cinco de mayo bookmarks. I make them pretty simple on purpose so that you can copy and cut them easily ... and the kiddos can color them. I need to work on being more green with my bookmarks ... using the backs of other things (or I saw some cool ones made out of cut up cereal boxes on Pinterest a while back) ... but for now I just have so much fun with the clip art. Of course the clip art is from Scrappin Doodles. I actually do like a couple other places but always end up using hers in stuff I post here.

And, yet again, for the life of me I cannot get pics to link (or the "docs" themselves to embed) like it seems EVERYONE ELSE can. WHAT am I missing? Anyway. Here's the link if you like them and want to use them.

And that is all for now. Spent five hours yesterday listening to a presentation on cool new children's books. I will post about that soon. But on the way home from that presentation I noticed that my throat didn't feel very good. And proceeded to get worse through the rest of the afternoon and night. I swear. I catch almost every bug that goes around.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cinco de Mayo library signs

So this is just a reminder that back in March I made some signs I like that would totally still fit.. We are getting a four day school week in honor of a local holiday that is just as big around here as cinco de mayo is ... where?

Cause the former Spanish teacher in me so cringes when people call it Mexico's Independence Day. THAT'S IN SEPTEMBER, PEOPLE!

Here is the same post, HTML copied and pasted.

Thought these were kind of fun. Got the clip art from Scrappin Doodles and the borders from Karen Cox. Fiestas are a big deal where I'm from ... and a big one is coming up.

Download the file with all of the mini-posters here. Got an idea for a better "slogan"? Put it in the comments and I'll update the file! I struggled a bit with these. Loved the graphics and wanted to do something colorful in the library ... but wasn't quite sure what to say. I definitely like some of them better than others.

PS This weekend I'll make some bookmarks. I think I got the line art. I have a serious clip art habit. :/

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Battle of the Books and Next Year Presentations

I ceded defeat today before it even started (second week in May) and pulled out. Is that terrible of me? I just knew we hadn't been able to practice yet. At all. And ... even though they do read they don't always read books on a "list" so finding a team intact in one class? Nope. How can I help them to know that it's not I don't believe in them ... it's just EGADS that gets competitive. I still remember the year one kid tried so hard and read all of them but his teammates did not and it was not pretty. I have questions as to whether or not it's worth the effort to remember all those little nitpicky details anyway.

I'm more of a grand overall idea sort of person. Read Shakespeare's Secret and research Shakespeare and write insults. Read My Side of the Mountain and play an online survival game. Read The White Mountains and make a video using a battery powered massager as a tripod (seriously ... they look like tripods!). These are past projects. That I can remember after a brain numbing day watching a student take a test. Anyway. Which one is better for the kiddos?

                                          photo credit: Lori Greig via photo pin cc

Thinking about possible TCEA presentations for next year. Don't really want to present (it's SCARY!) but if that's what it takes to get permission to go? I'm there. Possible things I might submit ...

1) Redo the photo editing one. Need to update my blog page cause RIP Picnik. I don't miss you as much as I thought I would!
2) QR Codes in the library. And I don't just mean linking to book trailers. Information scavenger hunts, vocab practice, and whatever else we can think of. Hopefully will get some co-presenters.
3) Tech integrated projects with K-2. They are NOT my forte, I'm here to tell you right now. Maybe have a teacher interested in doing that one with me. Maybe. But that's one reason why it might be a good idea. Cause knowing I have to present in February will make me DO it more August through January and not wimp out and fall back on the same old, same old.
4) E-readers with the elementary set. The E-reader bookclub went down in flames this year cause we  didn't get the Nooks "approved" by the powers that be and in our hands until February. By the time kids had finished their books it was spring break. Then bookfair. Then the teachers pulled our time cause they needed to do review work for ... THE TESTS. But I still think that could work and be cool by starting earlier in the year. And I figured out a few logistics (stolen from other blogs and then tweaked to fit our needs) that might be helpful to share?
5) Bookclubs and tech integrated projects. Been doing them for a while (not this year but this year is not going down as my favorite and THERE IS ALWAYS NEXT YEAR!) so might have something useful there?
6) Revamping the Connecting with Authors Online that I did with SimpleK12 (and have never updated the page on my blog ... still weird about finding an almost exact copy of it in my Google Reader but the blogger had already taken it down by then). Blogs, Twitter, FB, Skype.
7) Be a Leader by Following ... cool blogs and people to follow on Twitter and Pinterest. I went to a TCEA presentation that was basically like that and was like "Hey! I already know about that one." And "Hey! I already know about that one, too." Which is not to make me sound all "Hey, look at me!" cause not many of those people follow me BACK. But the info and ideas others share? Makes me look good on my campus and could do the same for others.

Which reminds me. Thank you for stopping by. If you blog you KNOW what those comments and page hits mean. Someone likes me! ☺


Monday, April 23, 2012

Oops. Been a little while.

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.
GREAT IDEA! Check out all of the What Are You Reading? participants for title ideas.

What I've Been Reading ... not nearly as much as I would like to! Not sure why ... just busy with important things or tired or sidetracked on not so important things.

Voice of the Undead (Alex Van Helsing #2)Voice of the Undead by Jason Henderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I would have liked this one more if I'd read the first one more recently. Which is not to say I didn't like it. I did. But I was confused more than once. Kept reading for the general storyline and occasional awesome part (like ... how can I say it without giving away a spoiler ... the unexpected twist in one character that I hope is revisited?). Skimmed over the confusing parts.

I just went back to look at my review of the first and seriously ... cannot remember what the question about Mr. Sangster was. That is going to drive me nuts.

The idea behind this story was interesting. A vampire with an uncanny ability to inflict his will upon others. More than the "usual" vampiric thrall.

I'll be back for book three.

The Fourth Stall Part IIThe Fourth Stall Part II by Chris Rylander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Still funny. Mac is a hoot. Kitten scaring the first graders made me laugh (does that make me mean that it made me laugh?).

Though I agree with other reviewers. The whole testing ridiculousness (I mean, seriously ... the number of hours spent practicing? If we could just be TEACHING AND LEARNING during that time instead of SILENCE and bubbling and "use your strategies" then the kids would come away with A LOT MORE KNOWLEDGE AND CREATIVITY. But the test makers would be out money so there's that. :X) made that part of the story a little hard to take. And the epilogue? Seriously, how long before we get book three? Cause that's just mean.

View all my reviews

Up Next Week?

I really must finish
The Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles, #2)The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

Plus I have
Out of Sight, Out of Time (Gallagher Girls, #5)Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter

Variant (Variant, #1)Variant by Robison Wells

checked out from the library. Hooray for reading! Have Friday off of school so I should make good on this goal. Local holiday. ;]


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Copycat Artistic Literary Endeavors

Eeek. An entire week with nothing even a little bit interesting to post about. What does this say about me?

Although I am proud of some decluttering I've been doing at school. Slower week in terms of lessons (good stuff happening with first and second next week and plants but I could not convince 5th ... they are too worried about testing in 10 days or so :[) and I was feeling guilty. But then I realized that a cleaner, less cluttered library space is better for everyone. Just like weeding the collection shelves. Weeding all the lesson "stuff" and tech "stuff" ... it's good for the soul. Reminds me of the good stuff I do have already!

I promise this will stay a mostly teaching/library/book related blog. But at least two of these are book related, right? I just got a Silhouette Cameo (personal diecutting machine). Don't really even know why because I am not a scrapbooker.
But I've been playing with the design software and these are some patterns I've come up with. Hook the machine up to the computer. Feed the paper/vinyl into the machine and it cuts it out for me! Why does this make me so excited? It is silly, I know. Should be exercising. Or reading. Or cleaning.

If I can find some yellow vinyl or contact paper I am totally making a Pigeon to stick on the back of my school laptop. Or a #hatback bear.
Then maybe my personal Mac might get the Death Star. Pretty happy with that one as is. Yoda still needs a little work. I'm no artist!


PS Here is a school use for the Cameo. Already added a couple more. No teaching benefit but it looks nice. Already added another one for 21st Century Skills (ie info lit). And discovered I still need to get rid of some of the "lit appreciation" type lessons cause I have too many. Maybe change that to "literary elements" or something. It's a work in progress. Threw out an entire filing cabinet drawer. And a half.

PSPS Been reading Piggie and Elephant to PreK. They don't know them! And they are enjoying it immensely. I'm almost sad to stop but feel like I should move on.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Smore = A Super Easy Page Builder

I should keep track of where I hear about things because this one ... wherever I heard about it? Need to pay attention to them. Lots of fun! I can't wait til they get out of beta and PRETTY PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE have an education version? That is best case scenario FREE but at the least reasonably priced. There are too many opportunities for authentic publishing of student research and learning!

In my perfect world the ed account would be kind of like Big Huge Labs. The teacher would create an sort of master class account and then be able to import a student list to create sub-accounts. The kiddos would have personal logins but the teacher would be able to go to his or her account and see what everyone was working on. This is my world, though. Don't know what they have planned.

Here's the home page of Smore.

It's this easy. When you log in you can start editing.

And you can change background colors and pics. Right now it's from their preset selection.

Didn't get screen grabs of the different styles but know that there are others!

And here's an example of a page in progress. Doesn't have much to it yet ... but what you see took about 30 seconds. That's the cool part. Making it look nice is super fast and easy ... so the real concentration and effort is where it should be. ON THE CONTENT.

I haven't tried moving the pages to my own "domain name" (mostly because I was a total dummy and didn't just buy it through Blogger and am still amazed that I managed to get it to direct to my blog ... no idea how I did it!) but for initial beta thoughts? So cool. Keep it up, guys!


Earth Day's coming up!

So ... I thought I'd share some ideas of things we do (or want to do!) in the library. Plus it will be fun ... I saw that Sunny Days was having a Linky Party and I thought hey! I'll participate. Not a "regular" classroom teacher but a teacher all the same! :]

1) Here Comes the Garbage Barge! is my favorite book to share, hands down. The art is cool and it is a true story!  A very ... visual reminder of the need to reduce and reuse.

Dunno this librarian but I love this idea. Thinking we may have to make our own version! Also ... my students would agree with the statement about the Statue of Liberty.

2) I don't have any cool pictures that exemplify this (Note to self: TAKE MORE PICTURES. And keep track of where you save them better!) but I will share that I started a Terracyling program in our school for empty chip bags and drink pouches. To date we've saved over 12,000 drink pouches and 7000 chip bags from landfills. Terracycle takes the materials and turns them into cool folders, bags, kites, etc. We do get a little $$$ for it and I spend it on new "green" themed books or prizes for various collection contests.

3) I got this activity from Amy Lemons on TPT. The Earth Day table numbers are going out tomorrow and then maybe the different craftivities and such will be rolled out over the rest of the month. Different grades will do different versions of them. ABC order, sorting games, and some other research activities that I'm still mulling over. This is sort of my preview post. Won't know exactly what we're doing until it's all done!

4) Other books, you say? Oh, yes. Curious George Plants a Tree, Charlie and Lola We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers,  What Can You Do With an Old Red Shoe?,  I Can Save the Earth!, and then several different Pebble Plus non-fic titles for the little ones, and a couple of the Protecting Our Planet electronic titles from PowerKids press for the older kids. What exactly will we do with them? Not sure yet. Trying to convince fifth grade to do an alternate energy research activity. I WILL CONVINCE THEM!

5) If you google (or look on your library shelves) you will find lots of upcycled art activities that during this time of year (when everyone is tired and stressed from testing and using all the computer labs so you can't integrate much in the way of technology--except for a couple SMART board activities that I might post later) are kind of fun. We've made pencil boxes out of cereal boxes, Dr. Seuss characters from TP tubes, birds from scrap cardboard, and collaged all sorts of different Crystal Light or chip containers. Note to everyone ... watered down Elmers works just as well as Modge Podge!

6) Here's a Sesame Street playlist on recycling. Some of them are pretty funny!

7) Just a reminder ... printable bookmarks here!

I'll work on taking some pics and then do a recap in May. Later this month I'll post about some worm activities we also do. I tell the kids I can totally do reducing and reusing but composting? It's still a little beyond me at this point. Too gross. But I'm working on it!


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday

So you might not know it ... but I've actually been in a really good mood this week. Why? Cause my brother is HOME! He's with his wife and kids and not on the other side of the world. Blessings to all the soldiers and their families that are still far apart from each other.

Not very library or book related, is it? Back on track soon. :]


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Library Data Board & Late Tech Tuesday

So right now it is just circ stats and age of the collection reports. I actually have seen a couple kids, parents, and teachers stop to look at it. For now I'll keep it up.

In April it might be good to add some sort of lesson representation. As math is not my forte you would laugh if you knew how much thinking it actually took for me to get Graph Club to work like I wanted it to. And to make the pictographs (representing chapter book checkouts and picture book circ ... each book = 100 checkouts). By the time I figure out what sort of representation to use for lessons and other class visits it will probably be the end of the year and I'll realize that totally I forgot to keep track of the data. ☹

I'm not a die cut machine master yet and like a total dummy I actually thought when I was cutting out the brown parts that that was the binding of the book. And then the pages were going to be white. Oops. Oh well. ☺


PS Do you like how I used some in there? There's your late Tech Tuesday post! Don't worry about remembering all sorts of weird HTML code key combinations. Copy and paste! Also ... next week I will talk about Fun and easy! I hope they have an ed version when it gets out of beta.
PS #2 Hello to new followers!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reading Workouts & Strange Stuff

No Tech Tuesday today, my friends. Last week was testing. Blech. Hope to have some good ones soon. Our poor Nook e-reader bookclub got messed up from testing. Once we get back on track hopefully I will have more to say. And the library is getting an iPad! Just one. :[ But hey. You have to start somewhere.

Which is exactly what this post is about. 'Cause my exercise? Yeah, it's been non-existent for several months now. And yuck. I hate exercising but I hate being too tired to do anything even more.

SO starting somewhere ...

goal will be ... four times at week. Three cardio and one strength. I want to up it back to six but seriously ... starting somewhere!

Anyone have a suggestion for a REALLY GOOD AUDIOBOOK that would motivate me? Like I'm only allowed to listen while on the treadmill or bike (we are talking gym and not road here). Sometimes I just need tunes but a really good book helps the time to pass more quickly as well.

Could also mention that an important part of this will be eating better. Check out this Pinterest board for "healthy" recipes I want to try (have a whole other board devoted to not so healthy!)

If I bought this would it make exercise less annoying?


On a totally unrelated note ... I'm a little weirded out. I've never posted the full presentation here because I always forget to check the contract (it's in my school email) about whether I even could or not. I'm assuming it's on their website? But I gave a webinar a while back and tonight I was going through my Google Reader and found a post by someone who ... from what it looks like ... totally copied several of my slides. Down to phrases that there is no way they would just repeat by accident. I find that odd. If they'd asked? TOTALLY would have said yes and would have been super excited about it. Well. What's even weirder is they've already taken the post down. Change of heart? Realized that's not the way to go about it? It's just in my Google Reader now. Debating an email message. Or just letting it go.


Monday, April 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.
GREAT IDEA! Check out all of the What Are You Reading? participants for title ideas.

This Week's Adventures
Ashfall. That's it. It was a rough week where I felt sorry for myself a lot and just vegged in front of the TV or computer. Lame.

And now we have a NEW week. And it's a four day work week. And I'm pretty much over feeling sorry for myself. Y'all shouldn't hear about it, anyway. Hooray! :]

Same goals as last week.
  • One of the three Rick Riordan books I own (Throne of Fire, Lost Hero, Son of Neptune) that I have yet to read. Probably Throne of Fire because I already have The Serpeant's Shadow preordered and it will come in a month!
  • Something else from my library stack or bookshelves ... we'll see! I have put myself on a bit of a no  very very few books on hold from the library because I have so many that I've purchased that still need to be read diet.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bloggiesta Finish

Let's see. I got some things done.

Cleaned up/reordered the sidebar.
Added a Friends Connect/Follow button.
Changed the Pinterest icon.
Did get the signature added. Sort of weird how it appears whenever I open a new post and I have to move it down. Should see if I can get it to start a couple lines down. Small thing but it will bug me unless I try.
Commented on some new blogs and added them to my Google Reader. Fun!
A few ideas for future posts. Not as many as I wanted but more than a couple.

Did NOT figure out
Blog backup. Eeek. You'd think I'd have learned that. Had a laptop stolen 18 months ago and lost so much info and pics that I didn't have anywhere else. Swore that would never happen to me again!
Pin button. Well. I figured out one within the post. But I thought it looked kind of tacky. In my perfect world I'd figure out how to get one down below the post ... like next to the ones blogger provides (FB, tweeting, google plus, etc.)
A review format that I really like.

As this was my first "Bloggiesta" and I wasn't even that active ... I think they went well. I read most of them and will still be trying to incorporate some of their ideas.
I could host a mini-challenge next time on (simple) picture editing. Photoshop genius I'm not but I do like to mess around with a lot of the online tools. You wouldn't necessarily know it from looking around on my blog but hey. That is one of my goals. More pics!