Monday, November 19, 2018

#IMWAYR Nov 19 Wundersmith

It's (almost) Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Date. 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.

The trailer doesn't do the book justice but it's a start. And it's for the Australian Hachette release date.

So have I mentioned before how much I loved Nevermoor? I don't know, it's been so long since I really blogged. But I loved that book. REALLY loved the audio. A little lunchtime audiobook club with some fifth graders has been the daily high point of a hard year. The narrator does such a good job of differentiating all of the different characters and the world building, guys. The world building in this story ... it's amazing. Some compare it to Harry Potter but that's just because it's got the basic archetypes in there. But seriously ... so much to mentally imagine. I read somewhere that it had a movie option before the first book ever released ... but no news since. Movies based on books are hard balances. Books are almost always better but BOY HOWDY it would be cool to see some of this truly up on the big screen. I WANT, WANT, WANT.

Book two Wundersmith The Calling of Morrigan Crow finally released in the US last Tuesday (still waiting on the audio). I went ahead and read it because I was dying to see what would happen next but you can bet I have been checking Audible like every other day just to see when I can finally get that version. Screamed out loud when I saw our district already had book two on pre-order for Overdrive/Sora. I'll still buy it but I'm excited for all the kids. It's a longer one ... similar to Harry Potter. A lot of my students don't stick with books that long anymore ... so it's been fun to see the little book club (it's only 6 kids) get excited about this story. I've talked about the series enough a couple other kids have talked their parents into buying them copies. And our one library copy is always checked out ... but so far no one else has actually finished it. Stamina. I want it for them but you can't force it, you know?

Anyway, between the breaks (we voted and even though I did actually try pushing Lockwood & Co. The Screaming Staircase pretty hard ... they really wanted to wait for book two the Wundersmith) the little book club is going to work on a little project showcasing Nevermoor. We'll see how it works out.

We'll see what else I finish this week. My trainer has me reading Eat Dirt. That sounds fun, doesn't it, right at the beginning of the holidays. Ugh with a CAPITAL U. But stamping my feet in denial doesn't deny the fact that check, check, check pretty much all the issues they talk about are what I've been experiencing. But who wants to totally relearn how to eat? I like pasta. I like bread. I like dairy. I like sugar. But I don't like feeling rotten. Conundrum.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Finally Friday

Hello, Internet. Long and grumpy post ahead.

I've missed you! I miss blogging when I had good ideas.

Some things have gone well.

Fifth grade used Seesaw to start making sort of like Reading Rainbow type booktalk videos. The hope is they will, about once a month, make more and comment on friends. To sort of build a reading community and practice talking about books and find new titles? We were going to use Flipgrid but since our district bought Seesaw for two years we figured we should try that. I loved them. That was awesome chaos.

If you are on IG and saw my post ... I love the book Grumpy Monkey.

I made some Batty for Books bookmarks with an image from Educlips. I have so many Halloween images I could go super crazy if I had the inspiration. Her image is cute. The phrase Batty for Books is not super creative but kids like them.

I took a personal day today. Initially it was totally for catching up on doc calls and cleaning but ended up being more about self care and sleep. But then I don't know if it was allergies or a cold ... one or the other. Or if it was the need for self-care manifesting itself physically again. Rotten sore throat and cough and voice. So anyway. Twelve hours last night plus a nap.

Internet, I'm not sure how much longer I will be doing this. I've loved this job for so long but it is affecting my health so negatively anymore I don't know what else to do. Had to go into counseling ("Therapy is cool"?) and she has suggested I think about leaving because so much of what I mention  is just out of my control. I love when kids get excited about books. I love when kids get excited about learning. I love when kids get excited about tech. But the job I'm in now is not the same one I had five years ago. (Same place ... just not the same.)

1) I'm highly allergic to mold. A leaky ceiling for years? Second week of school a worker showed me a pic of inside our ceiling. Black and green all down a beam about 60 feet in length. Right next to the HVAC vents. He was arguing with someone on the phone about not passing this off. Can I get a straight answer since then? No. I'm the only one in the room all the time. Everyone else pops in and out. But a body constantly on the alert? Not helpful.

2) My whole body hurts. Like I feel beat up most of the time and I am 44. That is ... that's not super old. It's really not. I used to do half marathons. I wasn't fast but I did them. Now I need 9+ hours of sleep a day and am still yawning and dragging and I can hardly finish a book. Stress has taken that from me. I literally ... I came back to school and by about 4 days later could barely walk. People noticed and it was mortifying. Eased up a bit after a week or two but was so painful. Was that inhaling all the mold again after a summer away? I felt so much better this summer, guys, it wasn't even funny. I still needed a lot of sleep but the body pain and forgetfulness and fuzzy head ... it was better over the summer. I started to feel like me again. But they are not DOING anything about it. Air quality people claim there is not enough of a problem.

3) The negativity. And here I am contributing. I isolated myself from staff last year when I lost my assistant and couldn't ever get out of the library like even for lunch. I tried this year and ended up sitting by myself as they take chairs and move them to other tables. Or making me wish I was sitting by myself for the mean conversations I overheard.

4) I don't know anymore if it's my expectations or theirs but in the end ... it's what I want. My expectations are my expectations. Y'all that have been going without assistants for years and years and still manage a smile and to make it look easy ... HOW? It is SO HARD. Being stuck at the checkout desk is boring. Self checkout is not fun and it doesn't work. They are kids. YOUNG kids. If the staff can't deal with it how are kids going to? I don't understand why there are so many issues (is it our dumb network? I swear if we get the white no internet screen one more time I will scream!) I am always having to run over there to fix issues. Always. Always. Always. Always. Very very very few staff have bothered to learn how to check in or out books and even with them there are so many problems and I still have to run over there all the time. I want to be in a library where I'm out helping kids find books and teaching lessons and an awesome assistant runs the checkout. And the awesome assistant can help kids when I am busy with a class so that I don't have to stop and repeat seven times "I have a class, if you can't follow the self checkout poster you'll have to come back later." Is there such a place anymore?

5) Teachers don't send down their books. I send cheery reminders a couple times via instant messages throughout the day (because I know they are not sitting at their computers. I KNOW THAT) and still nothing. Or the class walks in with books and thinks I can check in books, help them find books, and help kids check out books all at the same time? Or they don't come and then want to reschedule? I know they are overwhelmed, too. But I can't go around to every class and I can't get student helpers so ...

6) The counselor thinks that this constant need to prove ourselves and tell the library story and reach every kid can be kind of damaging. That maybe I've internalized it too far. That is possible. Heaven knows I say "I am ONE person" enough times in a day. I should remember it myself. But there are so many kids.

Grumpy post out. I'll be too embarrassed to come back to the blog for a while now.

Monday, June 25, 2018

June 24 #IMWAYR

It's (almost) Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Date. 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.

So I actually finished a few books last week, even with the family in town middle to end of the week. With that many people I pulled out for a bit each day just to get some quiet time. I'm a little sad now that I did that since it was a short visit and they are all gone now. But anyway.

June Goodreads screenshot

Stuck to the Kindle. Need to get the hard copies started! Well, except for We Don't Eat our Classmates. That was a hard copy. Too funny. Bruce books are still my favorite but will enjoy reading it to classes next fall. I shared it with my niece Penelope as she was here visiting. And she is about to have a little brother likely to be named Walter. We thought that was funny.

Beyond the Bright Sea. Interesting. I didn't want to throw it across the room like I did Wolf Hollow. That book made me ANGRY and SAD! Emotional reactions ... that is a sign of good writing, right? Even if they aren't particularly positive? Lauren Wolk can write so beautifully. I can appreciate the beauty. But I really wasn't sure how many stars I wanted to give it. Like four-five four literary quality but flat out me liking it? Not as many. Is that fair?

I have been on a PD book kick and I find that ... odd and refreshing. Like after the black hole (see the other book, apparently) that was last year to have even a smidgen of caring again ... it's fun! Like there are so many good ideas I will save much of a review for their own blog posts. I'm not impressed with how much advertising was at the end of each of these books (10-12%) but the content that was there had some really good things to say. Hopefully not just because I was coming from such a blah place.

Yes. Blah place. Ugh. Moving on cause I'm not good at writing about how to overcome that yet! I missed my workouts 3 days last week because of all the visitors and then this morning because of lab appts. so tomorrow must get back on that horse because it's a vital component. Much as it's not super fun.

Still working on last week's hard copies. And The Google Infused Classroom and I got two more ... The Pepper Effect and Learner Centered Innovation. Don't know why I'm on such a kick. TBH I still need to read my copy of Disrupting Thinking and I've had it almost since it came out. And ... here I am going to say it out loud here ... NOTICE and NOTE. Bad teacher librarian. And so much money wasted, right? But to keep on top of reading to talk to the kids about!
DYING to get to the top of the wait list for War Storm. Not for my students but just me. Love YA when reading for me.

War Storm book cover

I've also been WATCHING a BBC show on ... Amazon Prime. Which usually was a big waste of video. DCI Banks. Anyone seen it?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Books that I'm in the Middle of Reading

So it's no secret that is' been like crickets around here. Some of this post is personal, some of it is professional. That's the way it might be for a while longer.

And you will think I am nuts when you see how many books I have started over the past week. And I checked 4 out of the library. And that doesn't count the other ones on the Kindle and the ones on the shelf and the ones on hold and the poor, neglected Netgalley and Edelweiss ones (if you can't SEE the books--because those are "hidden" in the documents section--it's way too easy for them to be forgotten. BAD BOOK BLOGGER. Side note ... since I sort of took a break from blogging? More random emails about books or sponsored posts than I ever got when I was posting every day. What is up with that?).

I probably won't get very far, either, because family is coming Tuesday night and won't leave til Saturday morning. But there is the rest of the summer for most of this.

Book 1 #SparksintheDark I tend to think of the title of this one in terms of the hashtag.
Because I did love Kids Deserve It and I love their enthusiasm. Tweeted a bit about it and will say more when I'm further along. Reading multiple books at a time it may take a while but with professional books I want to have time to think about things as I go and not rush. Sometimes (let's be honest, a lot of times) with fiction I rush.

Twitter screen cap

Book #2 The Google Infused Classroom
I am pretty Google literate (got my level 1&2 certs last summer ... didn't do trainer because I can't ever get people to come to trainings but maybe I need to think more out of the box on how I do that?) but all of the reviews say it is still useful and so far I would agree. And it looks like they have another one coming out? But student dependent not savvy ... that is SO TRUE. I also kind of want to go back and also get Google Apps 4 Littles to see if there is anything I can share and get teachers to do (I tried to get them to use the color coding login cards but they didn't "get" it) but I'm already spending too much $ ... got a new Kindle Fire, too. So we'll see. 


And remember I already read Kasey Bell's Shake Up Learning: Practical Ideas to Move Learning from Static to Dynamic this spring and it was awesome so I totally recommend that. More about teaching than tech, really.

Book #3 The Wild Card
Part of me resisted this one a little bit because last year is close enough to remember how tired I still feel (it wasn't all THAT ... the docs claim part of it is an autoimmune thing but as the internet claims that will never go away I keep hoping to find something that will make me feel like I used to ... but I digress) but the other part of me wants to get some FUN back into things. Because FUN is ... well, more more fun for all of us and more engaging for kids. More memorable, right? And more work. But does it feel like work? That's the balance. So we'll have to see.

Which is not to say everything last year went wrong. Was actually quite surprised by a very positive evaluation by the AP. She's pretty reasonable and nice. Didn't get to actually talk to her about it (was all done electronically) and have any face to face time but whatever. Will take what I can get. Apparently my feelings that this past year was the worst one of my entire career ... that was the "d" word talking and not necessarily what everyone else saw?

Before I put the last book here is a pic from last week. One of my fave people is retiring. Can you see me? ;) I'll admit I had to make myself go. Even now when things are much better than they were four-six months ago. But I was glad that I did.

Book #4 The Depression Cure
I learned about this one through the Calm app and a masterclass. They give educators free access to the Calm paid version and while I think they wanted it used with kids I've used it more with me (and not consistently used it, to be honest, until the past week when I started listening to some of their masterclasses ... one on Social Media and Screen Addiction and then this one on Depression. I think the Social Media one deserves more thought and a professional angle on it because it really does have me thinking about some ways I can support parents more). TMI?
There. I said it. It's embarrassing (and it shouldn't be) and mortifying (and it shouldn't be) but man oh man oh man the past school year was NOT FUN and it has only been through a combo of family, faith, meds, and here again I am going to say it out loud professional help that I am climbing out of it now. The funny thing is it means less time online and more time back exercising (why is that SO STINKING HARD STILL because it does make a huge difference) and trying to connect again with those outside of family. I guess that is why I am saying anything here. Because teacher librarians ... it is way too easy to isolate ourselves. WAY TOO EASY. The school community doesn't mean to but they actually enable it some when they do things like take away assistants and get upset if the library door is locked for lunch and have everyone sit with "teams" at staff meetings and at lunches and such because where does that leave us? So. Self care. Make it a priority. Even if you are an introvert still talk to people because even introverts need some people. Even when you don't think you feel like it you need some people. Break into groups even when it makes you feel super uncomfortable. Now the sun one in this book. UGH IT IS SO STINKING HOT DURING THE SUMMER IN SOUTH TEXAS. During the year that is very likely part of the problem. I leave before the sun comes up, go inside to where I have no windows, and if they get their way don't leave until the sun goes down. That. Has. To. Stop. Being allergic to the air doesn't help ... but you know, the more I learn the more I wonder if some of the allergies aren't all related to a body at war with itself. Anyway.

(To be honest I found the Calm masterclass better than this Ted Talk. But you'll have to fill out the application first for that.)

Here are some of the books that are on deck. The left from public library. Right from my school collection. Again, terrible book blogger because bad lighting and staging. Asi es la vida. Most of my IG pics are better. But re Social Media and Screen Addiction ... this is more real life, you know. ;)
Happy Summer Break! Unless you are not on Summer Break? Not everyone is. I sometimes sort of forget that in reality other people CAN read this and they CAN be from other places. Happy READING, either way. If the personal stuff is TMI ... it won't last forever. If you've ever felt the same ... it happens. It does get better!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Thinking Out Loud As Summer Approaches

This is a personal post so it's ALL ME, not my district or even much to do profession wise. FYI. Proceed knowing that. I'll regret oversharing and want to delete it but anyway. Two "awareness" months that have super affected my health the past year ended in May and if oversharing maybe helps one other teacher know they are not alone than so be it.

One ... for heaven't sake, be nice to yourself. Mental health people ... make it a priority. Even those with super strong families and spiritual bases and common sense can one day (or night cause insomnia is THE WORST) wake up and realize all is not well. Please understand the kids are still awesome. They need us. I wanted to be there for them and be on fire for them but this year has been HARD. My own health has to be a priority as well, right?  I have tried to get a change in scenery over the years. Heaven knows I have tried. Applied and interviewed so many times it became kind of a joke because it always went to someone else. Could tell myself "they knew someone" (because in many cases prior connections came out later, even they the person ended up doing well anyway). Could tell myself "there's a reason you are supposed to stay" but why was that true when I felt so stagnant and alone? When I was so ... I don't want to say unhappy but no longer inspired? I wanted to be but it got to where I couldn't get anyone to do interesting things and couldn't get anyone higher up to listen (I avoid confrontation like the PLAGUE) and it felt like all I was doing was checking books in and out and not even getting to talk to kids about what they were reading and that was just not fulfilling. I was exhausted and in pain before the mental health issues started and a cycle of dwelling too long on the issues of education today and how frustrated I was at so many policies and procedures that were harmful to kids did not help. Glad to say tiptoeing down a better road now. It's a precarious road but a better road.

I truly don't know whether it was the chicken or the egg but they say stress can contribute to the onset of autoimmune disorders (docs have been super less than helpful ... I was doing half marathons 6 years ago) but pain and exhaustion and mental fogginess are real, no matter what the cause. They are real. And until I can get that under control the former issue will probably always be a bit of a spectre at the edge, waiting to jump back in if I let it.

So. Still have a week and a half to go but then it's summer. Time to relax and recharge. Some thoughts.

First of all ... the first couple of weeks means no thinking about school. Just get back into reading. That is one thing that has been a real barometer of just how much was wrong over the past year. Super hard to sit for anything but the audiobook on the commute. I'd either fall asleep or just not have the ability to concentrate. I have a backlog of Goodreads but I'm sure there are new titles that hopefully my local library will have? They are a smaller rural system so not many branches to choose from. Haven't tried the heavy duty ILLing from other systems. They are under renovations this summer so it should be an adventure going to pick up any titles!

Then I also joined my old gym. I've been going to Pilates and that has stretched tight muscles but it hasn't gotten the heart rate up all that much so it's time to work on that. Two times a week at Pilates and three times a week at group training classes. Hopefully I don't die or start crying.  Eeeek!

Renew some interests outside of school or find some new ones. Haven't figured that out yet. I used to watercolor back in college. That would be cool but seeing as how it's already been 100+ (NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN UNTIL JULY! SO UNCOOL!) not sure I want to be outside. Maybe hand lettering?

And some crafty things. Both for home and school. Just have to decide what.

When school starts again I have to figure out how to connect more with the other teachers even though my introverted self craves some time to just be quiet. This year I really withdrew ... without an assistant I ended up eating in the library because I was trying to get caught up and people still ended up sending kids during my lunch and that needs to stop (even though I've taken the same lunch pretty much since my first day there 14 years ago and I was always asking for it to stop but no, I can't lock the door). Back to the lounge even when it feels awkward to break into team tables or I end up sitting by myself because they are all sitting with their teams.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

(Almost Anyway) #IMWAYR April 9

It's (almost) Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Date. 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.

It's long. The subject matter makes it upper middle grade but in print form I think a lot of my kiddos would be intimidated ... it's long. Like HP#5 long. But in audio format subject matter is fine for upper elementary. Darker fantasy but fine.

book cover
I loved this story. I listened to it in the car on my drive to and from school and during lunch. The narrator does an exceptionally good job at bringing the characters to life. I mean, the author wrote really awesome lines (some funny, some creepy, some fantastical) but I just loved the tone and accent of the delivery. I died any time I had to stop listening and that hasn't happened for quite some time. No, not every question is answered at the end but I didn't even care I enjoyed the book so much. Book two comes out in October, I think?

Description (publishers, from Amazon)
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she's blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks--and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It's then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city's most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart--an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests--or she'll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

It's already got a movie production deal. That news came out in Variety before the book was even published.

I also read Shake Up Learning. Can I be quite as effusive about that one? No. It was PD and I'm a fiction girl. But it is a very good PD book. I got to read a free advanced copy (because I am a Kasey Bell/Google Teacher Tribe Fangirl ... if you remember clear back when I used to post more you might(?) know that? Both her blog and the podcast were major helps to me passing the Google Educator Certifications last summer) and just kept thinking yes, yes, yes and anymore due to health and other general circumstances I have been pretty disillusioned about education and my particular job situation so that means something. I don't say that to sound woe is me, just in passing honest. (If ever) More on that in another post. I only show up every day because of the kids. They are still worth it. This book is honest. Don't try to do it ALL at once. Tech is not a "it will fix everything." In fact that very mindset is part of the problem. We have to shake up the way we plan learning experiences in order to make things more applicable and more engaging and more relevant. Each chapter has great thinking prompts and actionable steps. Definitely worthwhile for educators for all ages. She also has an amazing set of resources linked up for the chapters at her website.

Not sure what I'll read next. It's testing so ... actively monitoring! 🙄 But I also have to take a day to get my license renewed and I might do that post testing just as something to reward myself for not going crazy. Even if it is Library Week because heaven knows no one else will ever remember that. And due to testing I can't really promote it, either. I did send some pics, at least, to the district guy who wanted something to tweet. Who sent out his request on School Librarian Day without a word. They remember nurses and counselors at the campus level. But they do more than check in/check out books, you know? Insert sarcastic eye roll ... 🙄🙄🙄