Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Quick Sat. Morning Post

Magnetic letter h E letter L letter L O exclamation mark
if you are here from either FreeTech4Teachers or the NerdyBookClub. EEEK! They both posted on the same day! I hope you'll find some reason to stick around.

If you are here from FreeTech ... I posted another collage yesterday and will be doing more!
If you are here from Nerdy ... make sure to check out my most favorite library signs/bookmarks ever.

Now on to Saturday tasks. Will be back soon!


Friday, June 29, 2012

New Collage

This is what I'm currently listening to on audiobook. Any guesses?

Photos from top to bottom: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Writing to Explore: Discovering Adventure in the Research Paper

That is a mouthful of a title, is it not?

Writing to Explore: Discovering Adventure in the Research Paper, 3-8Writing to Explore: Discovering Adventure in the Research Paper, 3-8 by David Somoza

I think this book may be this summer's Wonder (loved that one and need another reading of it, I think, to truly implement it as I wanted to ... but will I make that time? We'll see! Seems sort of sad to reread a professional book when there are so many others that I haven't gone back and enjoyed again but ...)

This was written by a former architect turned fifth grade teacher. He read his student's writing and just ... wasn't excited by it. THEY weren't excited by it and that was part of the problem.

I wish I could say the teacher librarian was mentioned extensively in this book as a collaborator and contributor to the project. I do not know if the school just didn't have one, or the author did not want to work with him or her (or even worse, vice versa!), or what happened.

Not once did I see the word library.

That said? This project sounds like so much fun! And the results are amazing. I would LOVE to try this--just not sure how to ever convince a teacher to devote that much time. Ten year old students learn to integrate facts they gleaned from searching the internet along with questions and creativity from their own minds. I don't know that I would actually call it a research paper per se ... although what would that mean differently? The kids cite their sources. They use multiple sources. They use their own words and ideas guided by experts. Inside the book the author calls it an adventure essay which just seems more appropriate. They choose a state and some sort of quest ... then they look for information that will build the story along the way. History, landforms, roads, hotels, flights, animals, weather. You name it. He couldn't keep doing it if his kiddos' test scores were not acceptable, right? So frustrating that time is always determined by test scores. What will they remember more as they grow older. This project and the pride they took in its creation? Or X number of days spent on test prep workbooks and practice benchmarks?

At one point Mr. Lourie mentions hearing a "well-intentioned, overworked" librarian say that Fiction begins with an F and we can use "fake" to remember that. Fiction=Fake. Non-fiction=real. Or, perhaps I would be clearer to say that he did NOT agree with said statement as even stories must be based in real interactions between characters or the environment. That's true. Will have to remember that for next year because I could be guilty of saying the same thing myself. Oops. :/

Examples of different handouts are in the appendix.


Here's an Edutopia article about a school visit by Mr. Lourie.
How odd that this review is longer than any I've written in a long while. I guess it's because I totally cannot remember where I heard about this book from and didn't really see much in the way of reviews online for it. I quite enjoyed it and can't believe it sat on my shelf for almost a year.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Picture Books from #bookaday and the #summerthrowdown

Anyone a Lighthouse school using Covey's Seven Habits? I've been trying to come up with library or book related "takes" on them but I'm not getting anything even kind of good. If you think of something please put it in the comments! I'll share any posters or bookmarks I might make. Now ... on to more interesting stuff.

Made a stop by B&N as well as had a bunch of picture books come in from hold requests at the library! My two favorites are probably the second and third from the bottom. So ... scroll down!

CourageCourage by Bernard Waber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saw this on my visit to the bookstore this morning ... and I liked it. Depicts so many different acts of courage ... large and small. Will have to get a copy for school.

A Walk in LondonA Walk in London by Salvatore Rubbino
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As an adult and an Anglophile? LOVE.

Not sure what kiddos would think, though.

Red & Yellow's Noisy NightRed & Yellow's Noisy Night by Josh Selig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one is a little preachy. That said? It's one of the more enjoyable preachy titles I've seen. One to use when discussing compromise. And bedtime.

Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her CatMinette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Is it because I am not a cat person? Or, necessarily, a foodie?

Don't get me wrong. The illustrations were cute and I can think of some kids who would like looking at it for the little cat.

But I'm having a hard time figuring out why we need a children's picture book about Julia Child. :/
Hmm. Anyway. I am not the target audience. If you are I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

Bawk & RollBawk & Roll by Tammi Sauer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Does one need to have read the first one to properly enjoy this one?

Love the illustrations. And I like the story ... we can all use friends to help us get over nerves and reach our full potential.

If I was going to read this to some kids? Would need to practice my Elvis voice. And come up with a couple others. ;]

Oh No! Not Again!: (Or How I Built a Time Machine to save History) (Or at Least My History Grade)Oh No! Not Again!: (Or How I Built a Time Machine to save History) by Mac Barnett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the illustrations more than the story. But that's OK. ;]

Otis and the TornadoOtis and the Tornado by Loren Long
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Still love the illustrations. And the story was OK ... I just liked the first one better. This one shows the initial "problems" between Otis and the rest of the farm ... and the bull.

On my grandpa's farm? We were not allowed anywhere near the bull's pen.

In the SeaIn the Sea by David Elliott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How is it I did not really know about him? Must get these for the school collection!

Mrs. Harkness and the PandaMrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great. Another one I might want to own. I do not have room! But I LOVE the illustrations. And the story is a new one to me. I'd like to read and know more. Maybe even a five star. I might go back and change that!

Other reviewers have mentioned that we would no longer make the same choices Mrs. Harkness did ... and take a baby panda from the wild. Definitely true. For that time, though, it did manage to do a lot of good for the panda. So perhaps we will allow her that bit of leeway.

Will definitely be adding this one to the school collection!

Arctic Thaw: The People of the Whale in a Changing ClimateArctic Thaw: The People of the Whale in a Changing Climate by Peter Lourie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was interesting ... maybe a three and a half. I keep going back and fourth.

The photography was solid. The story flow was solid. There were different characters (the grad students studying different effects as well as scientists and Inuit people) that added dimension to the story.

And I guess I should be fair. The title does say PEOPLE of the whale. I just would have liked more information about the whales themselves! So maybe it's not fair to rate on the lower end?

Interesting reading this the day after I read Writing to Explore: Discovering Adventure in the Research Paper, 3-8. Teacher and author worked together on that one and after reading his original work I can definitely see the influence in the way the teacher taught and the students responded. Still would love to try that activity!

View all my reviews


Expectations and Meeting the Teachers Where They Mingle

I "pinned" this on Pinterest the other day and one of my Kinder teachers commented on how much she liked it and how we needed to get all the Kinder teachers on board modeling something similar for the library and in the classroom. I thought that was pretty cool.

Source: via Angie on Pinterest

Only ... yet again. I need to come up with a creative display. I am not kidding when I say we have ... well, with the new voice amplification system? The two spots of about two feet white and three feet high (above cords and carts and smaller shelves) wall that we had? Gone. NO walls. Tried hanging things from the ceiling but the kiddos tend to bang on them. #smallsigh #butatleastidonthavetoalwaysyelltobeheardanymore


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Super Hero Bookmarks

I first came across these on Pinterest and tracked the idea back to CraftsbyAmanda.

Are they not awesome? I am thinking making these should be some sort of reward for reading ... maybe for completing X number of books or genres or pages or minutes or whatever after the first month of school? Our schoolwide "theme" this year is Superheroes.

Mine do not look as good as hers. First try, though. Freehand. With a ratty one inch foam brush. I am going to look for some nice permanent markers. I think that would be easier to get the detail in and still get the bright color that makes them look cool. In person, anyway. This is a rubbish shot but I am too impatient to try again!

And now to think up how I might do some of the other superheroes ... or heroines!


Monday, June 25, 2012 ... Summer Time

OK. Now I am on a role. Thanks a lot, Centered School Library! (OH! I go to get the link and there is a shout out for show and tell on S'more Tech Camp. THANKS!)

Like so many tools you know how you hear about them and think, cool? But then don't ever actually use them?

Today I finally tried Still pretty easy to use even though it's in beta. Different themes available than Piktochart (and it's FREE!) so ... now which one to eventually pick? I already have the educator invoice from Pikto. Haven't paid it yet. Choices are nice. Both free would be even better but hmmm. The question is just coming up with all of the right data sets. That takes the time ... not the creation, so much. But it should take the time because that is the value added piece, not the "ooh, let's make it pretty because infographics are the thing." So ... practice. Maybe I shall go back and look at the super interesting end of year report I had to turn in? See if I can snazz that up a little bit? Or start looking at more curriculum related ones? I'd say I'd just Google cause the ones done by professionals would be better ... but they wouldn't be focused on the ... what. Third to fifth grade crowd?

Or maybe my time would be better spent this summer making some screen casts of things like library catalog orientations, or genre booktalks. Would that make ours a "flipped" library?

Or just read. Or make something that is NOT COOKIES. I actually have a little comic book related project that is drying. If they are suitable for public consumption I shall post them later. ;]


What Are You Reading Monday

Good! Finally got things together in time enough to participate. Thanks Teach Mentor Texts and all of the other bloggers that keep it up!
Technically this is a mix of maybe ten day's worth but oh well. ;]

The Nine Pound Hammer (The Clockwork Dark, #1)The Nine Pound Hammer by John Claude Bemis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finished this on the drive home yesterday. No, I was not behind the wheel. And only in short spurts. Can't read too many print books anymore or I get carsick.
Anyway. Totally unrelated. This book ...

I liked it. I like the characters and I think there is possibility.

But I also felt like something just wasn't quite ... there. I found myself skimming rather than deeply reading. Some of the mythology just didn't ... work.

So we'll see. Haven't checked yet to see if book 2 is finished (this was just an impulse pick off of the shelf).

A Hero For WondLa (WondLa, #2)A Hero For WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful example of science fiction. Really enjoying this ... just wish it wasn't quite so long. I can't help but feel the world could have been built without quite so much detail. Then it would be accessible to more students.

But then again that might be what makes it believable.
(PS Tony DiTerlizzi "liked" my review on Goodreads. Now I wish I'd written more!)

FramedFramed by Frank Cottrell Boyce
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Funny. But I'm fairly familiar with ... British-isms. Not sure my students would get some of the jokes.

Although here's one that crosses "cultural" lines. :)

"'He's painted someone so ugly that anyone looking at it would think, 'I'm not so bad after all.' when you first see it, it's horrible. But if you just keep looking, it makes you feel great. I feel like a million dollars now.'
Lester opened his mouth, but he said nothing. You could see shed given him something to think about."
(p 154-155)

Tracker: A Short Story ExclusiveTracker: A Short Story Exclusive by James Rollins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Totally enjoyed meeting these new additions to the Sigma Force "universe." And how handy ... downloaded it from the iBookstore when I was stuck in the courthouse basement all day for jury selection.

Plus NOW I TOTALLY WANT TO READ BLOOD LINE. FYI: this is a "grown-up" book.

Annie's Adventures (Sisters Eight, #1)Annie's Adventures by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A quick read that was an impulse pick from the shelf. I actually liked it. Random funny lines I think even the kiddos would "get." An accessible length--got some kids who live fantasy but just do not have the reading skills or stamina for 300 pages plus.
A little frustrating that the story is quite serialized ... do not expect anything like closure at the end. And it would be nice if two if the three adults whew sides the parents weren't total jerk characters.

View all my reviews

Up This Week?
Finishing The Magic Half (downloaded to iBooks while I was stuck in the jury pool).
Cold Cereal
Finish One Year in Coal Harbor
For the love of Pete, finish some Rick Riordan. I love his stuff. Why has it been so hard to FINISH?
And maybe any more of the Netgalleys that I let expire :[ that I can still redownload. Or one of the paperbacks on the shelf that I picked up at a the bookfair and haven't read yet. Or a library find. We'll see! That's the beauty of #bookaday and #summer!

#alaleftbehind and #isteleftbehind

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Flying Books of Morris Lessmore

I love the film. I love the app.

I love the book.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris LessmoreThe Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Make sure to go to the webpage and check out the photo galleries. If I had my own iPad and not just the school's I would totally get this cover.
That said ... I want to think of something super cool creative to do with it and the kids. But ... I'm hitting  a wall. Can't think of anything beyond "the norm." Which is fine and good ... they need all the story elements and that sort of thing. But ...

Maybe I should find a cool retro looking outfit and take a picture of myself sort of ... I don't know, in a flying position. Then cut it out and make a cool ME collage version of this.

Which might be cool as "librarian decor" but really would be pretty labor intensive with the kids without plenty of volunteer support. SO that doesn't work. Plus would it be worth the educational time and investment? Not sure if it would encourage them to love the story.

Can't really redo the lights ... but I wonder how I could adapt this for our space. (Also if you look up "flying books" on Pinterest you will find many others ... one art installation that is SO COOL.)

What would the fire marshals think? And could I find enough cool covers on withdrawn books to sort of do it? Which reminds me. To Do in the Fall: Catch up on weeding. Fell behind this year. Also, again. Not a lesson or activity with the kids.

Still Thinking,


Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Infographic Tool: Piktochart

So have you heard of Piktochart? I first saw it last night ... drat. I can't remember where I saw it. I was reading blogs and Twitter. Anyway.

I just made this. I totally made up the numbers just to play around with the interface. Right now I have the free membership but I am considering the education one. $30! More options! Though I do not know if students could use that account with a generic password or if you would have to purchase ... I think I saw something on there about contacting them for like $1 a student?

The fact it's so easy to design one with made up info? Another teachable opportunity ... who made that infographic you just found on the web. Do they know what they are talking about?


Thoughts: Haven't played with it enough to tell if younger students could make simplified ones. Right now? Thinking fourth or fifth could start with some modeling. DEFINITELY older students (middle and high school).
If you've been following the Centered School Library blog she's posted about reasons to teach kids to design infographics. I won't go into that here.

The real question is coming up with the data. Students could research endangered animals or sources of energy or comparing information about places they'd like to visit.

School librarians? Anything you might put on a data board or even in a newsletter. Way to make it more interesting!

What say you? If you would like a more detailed step by step I could do that after some more practice (going to try some of the student ideas I listed above). If you have ideas of data sets for library promotion PLEASE SHARE because that is the real "money" part and so not my forte. Data collection. :/


This Is Why You NEVER Go in to School in the Summer

So this was actually about ... a week ago? Or no, maybe two now. Wow. But summer, all the same. I needed to get to the circ desk. This was what was in front of it. You can't really tell ... there are about four tables and five or six bookshelves in front of it. The entrance, anyway. More bookshelves all along the side. PLEASE let the numbers I taped to the top of the shelves stay put! #causethatisapuzzle #andthesearetheprettyshelvestheotherhalfis70swhitewash

Plus the AC was already turned WAY down. Meaning it was hot.

Oh. And just for the record this is me standing in front of the front office door. Yes, that's right my friends I'll bring it up again ... no walls. Our library is a hallway.


And just so there is something semi-useful about this post ...
Do any of you sew? I do not. But I LOVE these Once Upon a Thread posts from No Big Dill. Do you have a favorite? Of course mine is the one that first led me there

... I Am Momma's Scaredy Squirrel bag. I have ordered one from my Momma. :] But hello. The outfits inspired by Oliver Jeffers and David Shannon? SO cute. Clinton and Stacy be ... fuddled.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Picture Books + Catching Up on #BookaDay #WhatAreYouReadingMonday

I'm behind! Haven't posted on a What Are You Reading Monday in ... over a month?  Luckily ... several picture books waiting for me either in an Amazon box or on the library holdshelf. ;]

One of these days I will come back and for those of you not on Goodreads repost some of the chapter books I've finished lately.  Or picture books that I neglected to ever cross post. Yesterday was my last planned PD so I will probably be around for the rest of the summer. Debate going on about a road trip but ... I'm not a super big fan of the road trip so we'll see. So long sitting in a car! Even with something to listen to (cause I can only read for a few minutes at a time w/o getting motion sick) ... why is sitting so exhausting?

Big BouffantBig Bouffant by Kate Hosford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever so cute. Don't be afraid to be yourself. Yes, it's been done before and the rhymes are not always top-notch. It's the general idea of a current children's book discussing bouffants of all things ... and the ILLUSTRATIONS. LOVE the little details in the different children in the story. And in Annabelle's hair. ;]

Three Hens and a PeacockThree Hens and a Peacock by Lester L. Laminack
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Read via the new Reading Rainbow app. I must admit the four might be more because it was so nicely integrated into the app (a LITTLE bit of hidden stuff ... the main focus was on the book, which is SO important and the narration was awesome) than the story itself. But it was cute and funny. Worth taking a look at! And possibly for remembering that the grass is not "always greener" on someone else's side.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris LessmoreThe Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I am glad to have it in print form. Oddly enough, I think the app will still be my personal favorite ... but this is a great way to introduce the story to kids and have them actually listen and engage with the story instead of racing ahead to use the interactive parts of the app.

Lovely artwork. Lovely idea. Glad to have found it.

Extra YarnExtra Yarn by Mac Barnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love the style of illustration. Love the #hatback character cameos (Hello, Rabbit! Good to see you! #didNOTexpectthat). Love the idea of a little girl making a difference.

Not as huge a fan of the duke and what happens with him ... but other reviewers are correct. Could lead to discussion.

An Annoying ABCAn Annoying ABC by Barbara Bottner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Totally cute and a possible mentor text for either ABC books or poetry and alliteration.
Teachers? We've all had one of "these" mornings. If your lucky you get a mostly quiet and productive afternoon. The power of an apology!

Only what is up with the teacher's outfit? Pink bunny rabbits on a purple ... vest? With capri leggings and what looks like lime green cargo shorts? My only quibble. ;]

In the WildIn the Wild by David Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this one! Took me a while to get to it but now I feel like I should look up On the Farm and In the Sea (new 2012!) as well. Nicely done poetry and beautiful artwork. A great companion to an animal study.

View all my reviews


iPadpalooza Recap Part 2

Sometimes I forget other people can see this ... did you see that Tony Vincent commented yesterday? I totally want to go to next year's Mobile conference. One of our district tech specialists came back from it this year all like "You totally have to figure out some way to go!"

Yep. I do.

OK. iPadpalooza.

Then I went to a presentation by a third grade teacher who had 1:1 devices. A little bit JEALOUS. HOW COOL. She used Nearpod. I'd heard about it somewhere but never used it. Will have to, if our iTouches can deal with it. If you are going to use any sort of slideshow or poll consider it ... sort of lets you take control of the kiddos' devices. Sort of. Still have to experiment with exactly what the teacher end can see. We saw the student end. Loved the polling and the ability for students to see on their own devices what you are showing. I tweeted about it and they answered me ... so that's cool. If I have a question I know where I can go to get an answer. Then she suggested some management tips like textbook holders to keep the iPads at a tilted level so that students could see the screen at almost the same time as the teacher. That angle also reduces glare. Then ... oh, Glow Draw. She uses it for math. Will have to tell teachers, see if it works on iTouches, and figure out a library use. Cause it's free and it's a cool tool. She also mentioned that her kids enjoyed A Fact Every Day. It looks fun ... sort of like NG's Weird but True. Why do neither of them cite any sort of source for their facts?

The last session I went to was a little ... cobbled together last minute. That said I still enjoyed it--so I wonder what could have been if they'd had more time to prepare? Learned about some new apps like DoInk (Want to try! Interesting ... sort of like Animation-ish. Who says they will have an app sometime this summer but no actual date has been announced for the app or the 2.0 version), LittleBirdTales, and StoryBuddy2. Will pay more attention to #kinderchat from here on out!

Also finally signed up for Snapguide. Heard about it several times ... saw one student created example and thought it might have merit. Have seen some useful adult created ones in the past ... now need to track them down again.

photo credit: Sigalakos via photo pin cc

Sessions I did NOT get to attend but might have liked the content ...

iPad ArmyKnife
iPrep4Kinder ... they work in my district so maybe I'll get another change?
Skitch and Evernote
Live from iPadpalooza, it's SML! (OH! I should go check if they have the apps listed on their wiki ... YES! They do.)
SMART Notebook for the iPad
Productivity Tools for Teachers on the Go
Brain Based Learning on the iPad
Apps and More, K-2
Brain Pop
Personal Learning Networks on the iPad

Then maybe some time in the Expert's Lounge. And being more social with other attendees. A nice librarian from a high school in College Station sat down next to me and we had a nice chat but it was so hot and bright outside it was hard. :/ Also Note to Self: TALK TO PEOPLE!