Monday, June 29, 2015

"Required" Summer Challenge Reading

So I meant to write up some more apps as my next post but instead ... you're getting a rant. It's not eloquent. I don't have an eye-catching graphic to go with it. Sorry.

I think requiring kids of these ages it is a terrible idea. Required over the summer? Worst. Of course we want them reading. And we want them reading quality literature that will challenge their thinking. But ...

A going in to 5th grader reading Animal Farm?
A going into 7th grader ... well, maybe reading To Kill a Mockingbird. Maybe.
A going in to 9th grader reading 1984?

They're all great readers. But just like every day at school when I'd cringe if a parent insisted on a first semester first grader getting chapter books so they'd be challenged (and so they'd run over and pick out, for example, Skulduggery Pleasant) ... why? Those books will all still be there later. Great reader? READ MORE! Not necessarily UP. UP will always be there. You're not going to go back and read books you missed when you're 17, you know? Had a class of second graders that every week insisted on 39 Clues. Only one of them could ever tell me anything about the story the next week. I know, I know there were social issues at play there, too. It was just a constant delicate dance to get them to get at least ONE book that they could actually enjoy. I kept hoping more would realize "hey, wait a minute. This one is funny (or interesting or spooky) and I know what it's saying. I don't understand a word of 30 Clues. I want more of this one!" A couple did but not all of them.

I digress. Anyway. I know these three. I love these three. And maybe I am wrong and they will love these titles. Do you know of a kiddo that has loved any of these titles?

(And please don't think I am all rude at school and deny kids books they just think they LOVE and embarrass them and make the library an unpleasant place (cause I've had teachers do that and it breaks my heart). I just try very hard to make it a balance. If I know every single book in their hand is not one they are going to be able to finish I just try very hard to get them to change their mind on at least one ...)

So far my suggestions are not changing the "assignment." I just don't see a need for this. There are great, great, great books that were written in the past 20 years that are beautiful. What others would you add to the list?

1984-Want to discuss themes of power, warfare, technology, repression, loyalty, and memory?
The City of Ember (Jeanne DuPrau … The government that hid supplies from the people. Was that the right thing to do? Did the founders make the right choice sending everyone down below? How/why did everyone “forget” where they’d come from? See more discussion questions here, here, and here. Simple read for a 9th grader so she could concentrate more on the "issues." Plus it's summer. Pick her own books!)
The Giver (Lois Lowry See discussion questions here. Do NOT bother with the movie until after having read the book. They didn’t do a great job of it but that could lead to some great discussion there as well.)
Little Brother (Cory Doctorow … You can download it for free here. Cory Doctorow is one interesting dude. Google him or just poke around his website. Guided reading can be found here. Lots of tech jargon to muddle through but the story is scary in its believability)
Legend series (Marie Lu … See discussion questions here. Actually Hunger Games, Divergent, and Maze Runner all have possibilities for the same analysis of theme and making connections, though the actual writing is not as good)
Under the Egg (Laura Marx Fitzgerald … see questions here)

Animal Farm-Want to discuss themes of power, lies, dreams, religion, or equality?
The One and Only Ivan (Katherine Applegate … looks like a simple read but LOOK AT THESE QUESTIONS. Why was it considered to be OK for them to take Ivan and put him in a concrete cage? Are zoos OK?)
Actually Crenshaw fits here as well, doesn't it.
The Family Romanov (Candace Fleming … was on our district summer suggestions. This page links to some great discussion questions and an interesting podcast about the research process. Now that I know who is reading what I wouldn't suggest this for a 5th grader. Or at least this one. But I'm leaving it here.)
The Long Walk to Water (Linda Sue Park … lost boys of the Sudan. See discussion questions here. Powerful, powerful, powerful story.)
Star Wars and Imperialism. There are some great lesson ideas/discussion questions that could be based around the movies and Rebels TV show (and the books, of course!). How could I not mention SW? ;) Good practice for looking for imagery. But there again … I’m sure some history review would be necessary for his age. It’s just really missing in today’s educational climate.

To Kill a Mockingbird-Want to discuss themes of race, justice, family, compassion, or fear?
Separate is Never Equal (Duncan Tonatiuh … picture book but part of a story that even here in TX. See some questions here)
Echo (Pam Munuz Ryan … I just finished it yesterday. I cried. I hate crying at books but so much of it was just so hard to read in terms of the topics. Nazi Germany? Orphans? Widows? Both Japanese and Hispanic Americans not treated fairly? See author’s note and discussion questions here.)
Revolution (Deborah Wiles … see questions here and an author interview here. Countdown is actually my favorite of the two but it is more focused on the Cuban Missile Crisis)
Brotherhood (AB Westrick … see here and here. )
Glory Be (Augusta Scattergood … I am embarrassed to say it was on our state list a year or two ago but it wasn’t that long ago I finally got to it. And it’s remarkably good! See some questions here and here.)
Every Day After (Laura Golden … still looking for good questions but believe me, it’s beautifully written and shows kids a time and place they wouldn’t know otherwise)
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (Jacqueline Kelly … see questions here and here. More about sex than race but I just finished book two and am dying to find out if Callie will get the education she wants so badly in a time/place that thought she should just learn how to take care of the house. Plus the writing is just so good!)

#IMWAYR June 29

It's (almost) 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 and Unleashing Readers.

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

Not as crazy as the week before but still pleased with some great titles.

Definitely the one from last week that I would scream from the rooftops "READ!" I wish it were a little shorter so it would be more accessible to more kids. Like, leave off the fairy tale prologue and epilogue (though that would only be what, about 30 of 550+ pages?). The three inside stories. THOSE are the powerful ones. If it's not already on your TBR list? PUT IT THERE. I cried. I hate crying at books. I don't actively look for that in my reading. Thrill me, usually, is what I look for. But it was just that good.

Figured it was time to actually try an I Survived book since they are the only historical fic I can get kids at school to read. Eh. Better than nothing but not my favorite. The Compound #2 just got weird. Michael Grant's The Magnificent 12 series ... the story is OK. Enjoyable but nothing special. His WRITING style, though. Funny little "asides" sprinkled throughout--those are what make those books a treat. I'd give it a special post in and of itself but when I looked at my reviews for #1 & #2 all I said was "Funny parts!" I didn't stop and notate them like I did for some of them this time. So go to the Goodreads review to see. 

This week I want to finish the Circus Mirandus audio. Got distracted last week by small nieces and nephews visiting. I should have waited to start it until my 7 will be 8 in August niece got here. She is crazy for listening to novels while drawing or playing. Then I want to read Thickety #2. And some other books I have out from the library.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Finally Friday June 26

Little ones visited this week! That's always fun. And my sis and I went to see Jurassic World while Grandma played with them and it was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So far I've only taken one pic cause of little ones around (oddly enough this time around we haven't done a lot of picture book reading. We usually do! What's up with that!) but there will be more. Are you on Instagram? I posted it there. I am very new and very slow but it's kind of fun.

Just because it was so cute.

Have I already said I want to make this? It's harder to find round balloons, though. And then ... of course the young friends who think it's fun to jump up and hit anything that is hanging from the ceiling. :P

Not that anyone wants to think about the end of the summer. But egads ... 4th of July is in a week! And everything goes SO FAST after that. Anyway. I've loved this one since I first heard about it at the BYU Symposium for Young Readers a couple years ago (wish I was going again! Jon Klassen!). I've never nursed the idea of writing a book myself but I do love this one. Have it in the library collection for kids and I recommend it to teachers. And I know Teachers Write is starting pretty soon.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Creativity, Inc

This is more than slightly off my normal type of posting. And ended up long ... but this is also sort of where I figure things out and record them so bear with me. Won't always/even usually be like this. So not your thing? Move along today but please come back!

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True InspirationCreativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull

So all of these quotes come from the book by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace. Still for the life of me cannot remember what possessed me to put it on my Goodreads TBR list. And then to see if my local library had it (because they are small and often don't have what I want). So then when it was there on my hold shelf I had to pick it up and try it, right?

Teaching is creative, is it not? I'm not an eloquent enough writer to do a whole blog post on that.

Just going to post some iPhone snaps of pages that stood out to me. I was too lazy (and kept on reading) to retype them all. If I got the page number, I added that to the image. If I didn't, well ... go read the book! You can find wherever it was! (Terrible teacher librarian of me, isn't it?)

And yes, realize that if I pull bits out of context you are getting MY interpretation and perhaps not what he intended. I hope I didn't do that but I might have.

Creativity Inc favorite quotes
YAY for research! They are talking about research trips for making movies (apparently Disney got away from that for a while ... which seems very odd to me considering all the little video clips on DVDs that show all the old school animators going to South America. But then, there, we're seeing what we wanted to see. And yes, apparently things at Disney got pretty hairy there for a while! Kind of like, oh, education right now? They pulled through it!) but as a TL I just love the idea of it anyway. Authentic. Inspiring. Creating.

Creativity Inc favorite quotes PLN
PLNs! I don't always say a lot on Twitter. Or even always comment on blogs I read. But I read them. And learn from them. So thanks!

Creativity Inc favorite quotes trust
Don't you wish politicians and the general public would trust us?

Creativity Inc favorite quotes risk
And sometimes our own?

Creativity Inc favorite quotes teambuilding
This one also had many meanings for me with so much administration change last year and then knowing my beloved assistant of my entire school library career will not be there in the fall. I know the part time replacement. Have known him for years. Just have to figure out how we're going to work together!

Creativity Inc favorite quotes failure
Experience failure fast. Go at it! Try! If you fail ... because you went for it you have time to FIX IT! If you hem and haw forever and THEN still fail it's harder to fix things. ;)

Creativity Inc favorite quotes earn excellence
The word is rigor. Among many others.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 Apps for Teacher Librarians Part 1 General Stuff

Still such a popular pin I thought I'd do some updates.

See the tag iDevice. I talk about apps fairly often but here's another roundup after five months with a cart of 25.
(Go herehereherehere, and here for the original posts when I only had one iPad in the library. And the updates when I had 6 more as well as more experience? Here are Parts 123, and 4.)

Housekeeping ... getting content on and off of devices
Dropbox: still hands down my favorite. It has the cleanest interface.
Drive: a good possibility if you are a GAFE school or also using Classroom or Photos. I use Dropbox more but have used Drive for times like copying text from a doc kiddos shared with me into our BookCreator pages.
Chirp: quick and easy for photos you don't need at highest resolution. And if you don't know what that means you don't need highest resolution so you're good. :) I can get photos for a lesson onto 6-8 devices at a time. It can also be used to send web links though a QR code would work just as well for that. Just the "wow" factor of funny little beeping noises transmitting info.

i-Nigma is my favorite QR code reader but they all work pretty much the same. We use Neo-Reader on the library iPad sign in because you can control which camera it uses and when the iPad is locked in the security stand we need to use the forward facing camera. Pretty much for everything else you'd want the rear camera.
Aurasma: augmented reality. I have a Pinterest board but there are lots of them. Again, not hard. The hardest part is getting parents/other teachers to follow your Aurasma channel so that they can see the content!
Daqri: really only useful if you apply for the educator's account (it's closed right now but I'm told via Twitter it will be back up soon) to create your own. It's not hard once you get the hang of it. And once I realized the step I was missing? Less than 5 minutes (not counting the video creation time) to get it set up to scan! Nice because if others have the free Daqri app they don't have to follow your "channel" to see your content!

Book Apps
I don't have any new ones since it became very, very hard to get paid apps the last two years at school and most of the free book ones I've seen, well ... there is a reason they are giving it away. #appsnob Of the ones I know my favorites are still

The Flying Books of Morris Lessmore: love the story! The first link leads you to a book app. This link will lead you to an augmented reality app to go with a print version of the book.
The Monster at the End of this Book: a bit of nostalgia, yes, but they did such a nice job of balancing the book with interactivity.
Harold and the Purple Crayon (which you can't get anymore :()

Check out the Cybills for a nice list of more current titles. And of course SLJ.

OVERDRIVE: we're super lucky in our district to have a nice collection. Apparently one of the biggest in the nation, actually. It's a constant effort to remind staff and students about what's available. So crazy because I know my students, at least, have much more access to tablets than they do to desktop devices. And yet it hasn't "clicked." YET!!!

Stay tuned over the next couple weeks. I'll do an updated Photo Editing one (and talk about Canva, because they asked me to months ago and I am very, very behind) as well as more Media Creation. Did you see my guest post over on FreeTech4Teachers? It didn't make the "most popular" of his week but oh well.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

#IMWAYR (almost) June 22

It's (almost) 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 and Unleashing Readers.

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

I read like crazy this week. I doubt much of it could be called careful reading. I'm working on slowing down but there are just so many books in the world I want to read!

Mix of oldies and new ones, picture books, middle grade, YA, and "grown up." That's what #summerreading #bookaday is all about! Most of the "grown up" ones were actually disappointing. Like authors that I've really enjoyed in the past? So so now. The odd one out was the Creativity one. I never read stuff like that but found it pretty fascinating, especially as most of it could be viewed from an education perspective. Anyway, you can click on the pics to go to my "read" shelf for a little more info. And the best ones I will repost/review more in depth here as release dates get closer. Like Piper Green. You'll hear about her again because she is a must get for early chapter book readers. And Stick and Stone is a good one for talking about building a positive classroom community.

And starting Tuesday a revival of what is still a very popular pinned series ... Apps for Teacher Librarians. Finally!

Happy Father's Day. I have the best Dad. He is the one that gave me my love of books. Due to an eye disease it's really hard for him to read but he still does. He's a great fan of audiobooks!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Finally Friday June 19

Funny how it's not so much "finally" over the summer.

I love it and hate it at the same time. Well. I love it about 20 minutes after I'm DONE. I hate it until then. :P

At risk of a bit of language arts and crafts ... could the small size perhaps help move it along to still be creative, still come up with a finished product, and yet get them BACK TO READING AS SOON AS POSSIBLE? Balance. It's a delicate, delicate balance.

Spirit Monkey is on Pinterest! The hats are probably the favorite at my school. Even though the SW-inspired ones are MY favorite. ;) The tags are collected on key rings or loose binder rings. They have all sorts of topics and themes besides reading. Math, character building, manners, mascots, Dad/Mom/Grandparent events, etc. No, I'm not being paid to mention them. Just think they are cool. It would be fun if they would give me some for a giveaway, though.

I do try. Some posts are more successful and useful than others. ;)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

TBT Google Chrome

This post is a mix of an earlier post and a couple new additions.
Google Chrome for Teacher Librarians

Don't own the Chrome logo, just using it for this post. Scrappin Doodles frog doesn't have anything to do with Chrome, either, just thought he was cute. Kimberly Geswein font. ;)

Chrome extension icons

Tab Scissors and/or Tab Glue. Want to have two tabs open at once? Where you can see both and work in both? But annoyed with the resizing and layering of two windows with the two tabs? ENTER TAB SCISSORS (and when you're done? TAB GLUE). Seriously. Awesome. Quite often moving back and forth between tabs trying to see two windows at the same time. Once it's installed the little icons and what they do can be accessed to the right of your URL bar. shortener
This one is handy for creating shortened URLS straight from any page (w/o having to copy&paste anywhere else) as well as a QR code generator! Also find it, once installed, just to the right of your URL bar. Look for the icon!

Google Art Project (just for fun)

This one puts a pretty painting up every time you open a new tab. I've been using it for about 3 months and I've never seen a painting I would feel awkward having show up in front of kiddos. Yes, an icon will show up but you won't have to ever actually USE it. The pretty art will just be there as a backdrop to the new tab.

Can you tell what it does? Not really from this screengrab. Anyway. It adds enlarged text over a webpage. I could see that being useful like at the beginning of a presentation, maybe? It's a pretty new one to me so I'm still figuring it out.

Basically makes the little "tic tac toe" board you see on a Google page available anywhere. Not like typing "Drive" or "Docs" is hard but hey. It's the little things.

And remember ... to install a Chrome extension? From this post you can either click on the two links (in the first one) or on the screen grabs in the others. Out on your own? Click on that "plus" tab at the far right just above your toolbar. Click on the "store" icon (or search for Chrome Webstore) and look for the topic you are interested in. Then click install! If you are logged IN to Chrome at the time the extension will appear on any other computer where you log in to Chrome (which is a bit different from logging in to your gmail, BTW). If not you can still install it without logging in to Chrome ... it will just only install on the one machine.

Spent a lot of time reading the past four days. Fun! Although also I would like to do some other things. :P Even with more regular fitness class attendance ... still need to be more active during the day! Got a couple new Lego minifigs and accessories coming so maybe I'll try some pics. I need a #MondayMadeIt project!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate (Calpurnia Tate, #2)The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Callie Vee is so much fun to read. Historical fiction is one of the hardest sells in my library but I keep trying. This one is set so close to home and she's just got so much spunk. Never mind she was "expected" to enjoy cooking and sewing ... she was fascinated by science and nature and thank goodness for her grandfather to see that she learned about it.

I read an electronic advanced copy so some of the quotes may look a little different in the final format ... and I have only Kindle "locations" instead of real page numbers. But here are just a couple to show just how good the writing is.

Chapter 1, location 213. "I could just imagine Mother's reaction to Travis coming home with a baby hippopotamus on the end of a string, and I thanked my lucky stars we lived in a hippo-free country." Made me laugh.

Chapter 2, location 251 "And that's how--probably for the first time in history--the nine-banded armadillo became a tool of courtship and an implement of wooing."

Chapter 6, location 800. "Remember, Calpurnia, you learn more from one failure than ten successes. And the more spectacular the failure, the greater the lesson learned."

Chapter 7, location 930. "'Sorry, worm,' I whispered, 'but it's for Science, you know.'" (Upon her first dissection.)

And last but not least (these are just some examples ;)) Chapter 17, location 2551 "Good thing Aggie was the general store getting a soda. If she'd been there she'd have croaked. Completely croaked. Honestly, the drama in my life." (A king snake living in her wall and her pet newt had just met ... at point of peril for the newt.)

Now, I will say this. Never been successful getting a kiddo to read the first Calpurnia Tate (well, unless having introduced it to my s-i-l who says my niece is reading it now). Never. But I've talked it up to several adults and they've all enjoyed it. And I am still looking for the kiddo at my school. And so glad my niece is reading it!

And if you're still around I will say ... the ending felt a little abrupt. That's why it's 4 instead of 5. I do hope that means there is a book three coming.

This book will be released in early July. Look for it then!

And if you're STILL around ...

Fentress (setting) article on the Handbook of Texas Online

minute long video recording from Galveston after the 1900 hurricane

photo of a laughing gull
laughing gulls

photo of hairy vetch (I'd forgotten what that was from the first book!)
Hairy Vetch

But no, I will not look up a pic of a king snake for you. UGH, UGH, and triple UGH. See? I am nothing like Callie Vee and yet I still love her story. ;)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Some Google Docs Add-Ons

So. Google Docs. You can do more even than I knew. There are much more extensive reviews out there. These are just what I happened to have added to my blog and school accounts.


Easy Accents because hello! Former Spanish teacher!
Install and start the add-on, choose your language, and look what appears to the right of your page?

Extensis Fonts because ... I like fonts. Blech on Comic Sans or Times New Roman. I mean, you do still need to keep things clean and uncluttered looking. And some "decorative" fonts take away from that. But there are a lot of cool ones out there! There are other ways to get new fonts in your G Drive but this is an easy one.

I haven't tried the Avery Label Merge yet but since I DESPISE the Word/Pages templates I will. Formatting is such a nightmare with those.

Open Clipart. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY more options. Now you know this is one area I have a weakness for cutesy. But that's at home. At school? This is nice.

Tag Cloud Generator is one I wish I'd remembered a couple weeks ago when a teacher was in a panic because Wordle didn't work on the Chromebooks. I just looked up a website that worked. Anyway. I copied/pasted one of the paragraphs from the book blurb into a Google Doc and here's the cloud it made. You have to screen grab it to save it and even if you change the font in the text you can't change the font in the cloud. That said, it's nice and easy. And could also be used as a quick editing tool to see if writers used any particular words in excess. The more times a word shows up in the text the bigger it gets in the cloud.

Will have to try the barcodes one when I'm back at school because with our new network system our poor little barcode printer keeps getting kicked offline. And of course the tech eventually comes to fix it (because they've tied everything down so tightly I can't do a thing) but I can tell he's getting tired of fixing a label printer. A teacher librarian needs her barcodes, though. For books and students!

Mindmeister ... I don't quite get the point of. But then again I've never quite gotten the point of Inspiration or Popplet, either. So I offer different kinds of graphic organizers. But I figured I'd show you. Not sure why it skipped Padme. Basically anything that you bullet point in your document, highlight, and then choose the add-on? Turns it into this.

Translate is pretty self-explanatory. No, no machine translation is perfect but it's a place to start.

And the ProWriting and Templates we'll see when I get around to using them if they are worth it!

Monday, June 15, 2015

#IMWAYR June 15

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 and Unleashing Readers.

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

You can always click on the screenshot to go to my Goodreads shelf to get more info. But over the summer I will post more detailed reviews individually during the week. I got so behind on reading over the past year wasn't much to share. But I would like to get back to hello, the name of this blog. :)

Four excellent, one good, one ... I waver between wanting to read book two because parts of the characters were engaging. But really feeling like it could have been so much shorter and just as good.

Now, what's on deck. Really, truly finishing up some that I've been "reading" for weeks now? I think I need to just start over. Or give up on them entirely. There is something to be said for the timing of reading a book. See any favorites you think I should pay more attention to?

The Forgotten Room I only just started as an audiobook while on the treadmill or commuting. So that one is not embarrassing. Odd how I don't seem as drawn to Red Rising. Attempts to read have been going on for months now. As have Magician's Fire. I got the first chapter or two of Circus Mirandus on Netgalley and NOW I NEED THE WHOLE THING. Then maybe Murder is Bad Manners? Or How to Outrun a Crocodile When Your Shoes Are Untied? Or The Great Zoo of China? Or Guys Read: Terrifying Tales? #bookaday #itssomuchfun #onlymysoreshoulderwristpinkyarebacksoithurts #butIdeal

Friday, June 12, 2015

Finally Friday June 12

Winner of the Gumdrop case has been contacted. Thanks for playing, everyone! :)


Click through if embedded pins does not show up. Click through again for original sources!

I would say perhaps this should be a summer #mondaymadeit for next year's SW theme but then again it could confuse the kiddos.

I feel kind of cheated that I am so terrible at Minecraft. I got just as lost in the tutorial as I do ... anywhere, really. Was the headache related? Well. Since it won't work on the tech we have in the library then I guess the kids will have to stick to playing it at home. #ohwell

Or THIS for a #mondaymadeit? Something more book related, you think? :/ ;)

Did you see this pic on the front page of Yahoo? WOW.

I will not make these. I will not make these. I will not make these. How much running/reps with the weights would they be?