Sunday, September 30, 2007

busy days in the media center

School has been in session for about six weeks now and I am really feeling how different it is to be in public school, especially the difference in SIZE. I went from a school of 575 students to a school of 1100 students. Last Friday the book fair rolled into the media center and it is non-stop! Of course the fun part of the book fair is looking at all the great books that I will get for the media center off the fair. Number one on my list - Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems

Starting tomorrow the 2nd annual Cybil's awards will begin taking nominations for your favorite children's and young adult books. Check it all out at the Cybils site!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another reason to Love MO!

Mo Willems that is.

He has a great article on Scholastic on making reading FUN.

Although, I can tell that his daughter is still fairly young, he mentions in the article that
"You may not know this, but you are a very cool person (to your kid, at least). Seriously, pretty much everything you do is cool. If you mow the lawn, that's cool. If you eat chocolate ice cream, that's cool."

My eleven year old thinks that NOTHING I do is COOL and his almost 10 year old sister is *almost* at that point also, she only thinks about 10% of what I do is cool and only if it involves me buying her something!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How would you...

over at 7 impossible things they have an interview with author Trudy White and they have challenged those in the blogosphere to answer some questions from her new book Could You? Would You? So here goes:

how would someone find you in a crowd?
medium height, brown hair, I blend so well into a crowd, that unless I wear something memorable, people wouldn't find me!

if your house had a secret room what would be in it?
a comfy chair, a laptop, books, magazines, some red wine and dark chocolate and most importantly no phone or kids!

where do you like to walk from your house?
I live in suburbia, so the only place I can walk to in my neighborhood is to the neighborhood pool & tennis complex and to my neighbors houses.

How will you change as you grow up?
hopefully gracefully and without too many wrinkles!

what kind of animal would you like to be?
I am not a huge animal person, so i have to say that there isn't one animal I would ever want to be!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Reading Motivators

One of the big things I have been working on at work the past few weeks is getting together the reading incentive program at my school. Many of the schools in our district have AR (Accelerated Reader) and they use the test results of each student to reward them with little prizes (ice cream, candy, my daughters school has hats etc..). My school has traditionally had a reading program where the students were challenged to read a certain number of books and if they read the books, wrote them down on the sheet provided by the deadline date, they were then invited to a special reading celebration. The reading celebration usually involved an author or illustrator visit. That was all fine and good, but here is my real question for all of this, do contests/programs like this REALLY encourage kids to read more or improve their reading skills?

In talking with some of the students (grades K-5) many of them said that their PARENTS made them participate and some of the smaller kids didn't even know mom & dad had turned in the slip or that they had "won" anything. The kids that are motivated to read in order to be invited to the celebration are usually the kids who would be interested in seeing/hearing a "real live author" speak to them, in other words, the kids who READ anyway and need no motivation to do so.

So there was my question, what kind of program could I instill at my school that would motivate those kids who really HATE to read. Those kids who really struggle to read and because of that HATE to do so. In in a school climate (all over the country,really, not just my school) where test scores seem to be the only indicator of something "successful" what will motivate these kids to read more so that their reading test sores would go up?

Unfortunately, I haven't figured out an answer yet! Part of that reason is, I think I need to look at the students at my school and figure out what would motivate those kids (both boys and girls) who are struggling readers. Somehow a party with an author just isn't it. Reading articles like this at Teacher magazine has helped me to get a little more insight into some things I might do with individual students, but I am looking for something that will motivate the masses (in a school of 1100 students, it is THE MASSES!).

For now, needing to have something to give the Principal, I have dusted off the old reading program, made a few tweeks to it and it will be going out to parents in two weeks. But I think I am going to use this year to really do a little research into WHY the kids who participate do so and what motivates THEM to participate in this. I am working on some things for Children's Book Week in November that I might be able to use as tests for student motivation. I want to see if seeing a professional athlete reading a book to the student motivates them to pick up a book? If listening to a book being read on a podcast or on cd would motivate them? What if the reading contest was more like the baseball playoffs and it was more like a book competition with a big trophy and a party at the end? Somehow, people seem to think trophy's motivate kids, hence why we get a trophy for every season of baseball/football/basketball - enough with the trophy's for just participating, does it really motivate anyone?

Sigh, I wish there was a magic answer to this and the magic answer was, we wouldn't need to motivate anyone to read because everyone loved it and it was part of every student's everyday life. Excuse me while I go find Cinderella in my fantasy world.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Could life get any better!

Bon Jovi has done a video for TBS promoting the upcoming baseball playoffs - and of course there are some GREAT shots of Fenway and some of my beloved (and for now, in FIRST PLACE) Boston Red Sox.

Can life get any better??

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Job Blues and Apples

I work in a large county where we have a GREAT central media office. One of the services they provide us is LOTS of continuing education opportunities (for FREE) and also as a new media specialist in the county I have monthly meetings with other new media specialists and our mentors, who are established media specialists in the county.

Today we had one of those meetings and I came out of it feeling so overwhelmed! The problem is, there are some FABULOUS media specialists in our county and when they come to present to us, they pull out all their stops. The woman today, who is actually the media specialist at my son's school has done great things, I have seen her media center and it is a happening place. But I think to myself, HOW am I ever going to measure up. I guess I must have had these thoughts 5 years ago when I started my first job, but then again it was a school half the size of my current school and I really had no "peers" telling me what great things they are doing. I did take some things from this woman's presentation that I can use in my media center but I guess that I am still a little under water and not sure how to get floating comfortably again. I am still doing orientations and while important, especially for the kids to meet me, I can't wait until I can really get into what I love to do, which is to teach kids research lessons, do fun story times and plan some fun PARTIES in the media center (Polar Express anyone?)

For something a little more useful, here are some APPLE websites that I shared with my teachers this week:

Check out some websites and activities on Johnny Appleseed. He was born in a town in Massachusetts not far from where I grew up (and home of the most DELICIOUS Macintosh apples!!)

Check out the story of Johnny here;

Check out some fun Appleseed activities here:

Check out information on the Georgia apple festival and also listings of the types of apples grown in North Georgia and where to pick them yourselves.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Media Odds & Ends

I have started a little weekly (well, we'll see how "weekly" it becomes) newsletter for my teachers. I hope that it will be info. about what is going on in my media center, but also some odds and ends of information that I find in magazines, newspapers and the Web (especially my fiends in the blog world!). here is an excerpt from this weeks. Most of the odds & ends pertain to happenings in Atlanta, but if you are in or near the ATL, you might want to take a look!

I attended the Decatur Book Festival this weekend and heard presentations from author Melinda Long (who I am trying to have come visit our school this year) and an illustrator panel with Caldecott award winner Chris Raschka (The Hello Goodbye window), Judy Schachner (Skippy Jon Jones book) and two local illustrators. It is always interesting to me to hear from creative people like this and how they come up with ideas and how children’s books actually get produced, it amazes me how LONG a picture book can be in production. I also got lots of STUFF. Here are some interesting things I picked up:

Where the Wild Things Are exhibit: Until September 30th at the Breman Museum in Midtown Atlanta. Original art by Maurice Sendak and children’s activities related to his books.
Visit for more info.

16th annual Book Festival of the MJCCA. November 3 – 17th. Some great authors will be giving presentations, including Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, lawyer and author Alan Dershowitz and the authors of the book Three Women, Three Religions, One Quest for Common Ground. Check out the website for more details: (I am going to try and attend the presentation by Markus Zusak on Sunday November 11, if anyone is interested in joining me!)

The Wren’s Nest, the historic home of author Joel Chandler Harris located in Atlanta is offering lots of programs for students this fall. One program is a reading challenge. Read five Brer Rabbit stories, then go to the website (see below) and download the Reader’s Tee form. Have a parent or teacher sign the form then visit the Wren’s nest and receive a COOL free t-shirt. Visit their website for details on this contest and other activities.

I picked up a flyer that looks VERY interesting. It is called Paper Back Swap. It is an online book club of people who “swap” their paperback books for just the price of shipping the book. I have not tried it YET, but I think I will be checking it out. Their website is

One of my FAVORITE things to do in Decatur is go to the children’s book store Little Shop of Stories. It is just a great place, what is there not to love about a book store that has an ICE CREAM parlor attached to it! They have some great activities and book clubs throughout the year. Sign up for their newsletter and check out what they have to offer. They also host MANY authors throughout the year and do special educator presentations with some of these authors. They hosted Patricia Polacco last year and she was FABULOUS! Their website is

I picked up a flyer about Georgia Project WET. Their website includes information on Project WET (which is water education programs for teachers), Georgia River of Words (an environmental poetry and art contest) and also information about volunteer opportunities with Adopt a stream and Rivers Alive. Check out all this great environmental information at

One more thing I found over the weekend. The Atlanta magazine SKIRT! Is having an essay contest for girls in grades 5-8. Pass along this info, to anyone you know who might be interested.
“To celebrate the historic moment of a women running for the White House, skirt! Wants to hear from girls in grades 5 though 8 about why they should be President and how they would make a difference in the world if they were elected.
Your Campaign Package: be creative…design your own bumper sticker. Be Thoughtful…tell us about your campaign issues. Have Fun///Hillary Clinton’s campaign song is “You and I” by Celine Dion. What would yours be? Surprise us with your ideas and presentation.”
Prizes in each grade level will receive $150 and selected entries will appear in the magazine in January 2008. Entry deadline is November 15, 2007 and must include name, address, phone number, age, grade level and school. Send entries to: Skirt! 107 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305 or e-mail

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


To one of my favorite YA authors (and daily bloggers) Sarah Dessen on the birth of her new baby girl Sasha Clementine. See the details here. Although I am sure that her daily postings will wane a bit as she gets used to being a Mommy, make sure to check out her blog, it is funny and with enough pop culture and YA book references to tide me over for the day.

Now, I hope that someone will get her the Clementine books by Sara Pennypacker as a baby gift!!