Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What they don't teach you in Library School....

that someday in the name of education you will be dressing as the Chick-Fil-A cow at afternoon bus duty

and also that in doing so there should be an extra stipend in your paycheck to pay for the therapy your child will need after seeing his mother dressed as the Chick-Fil-A Cow

(this was to promote chick-fil-a night at our local branch - they are one of our school's awesome business partners!)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Letters to the new President

I have found that instead of music, I like to listen to podcasts when I work out (I joined a gym for the first time ever 3 weeks ago!) I have a few "mommy" podcasts that I have listened to for awhile, but I found that since they only update once a week or so, I needed to expand my podcast list. So I downloaded This American Life podcast and listened to that today during my work out.  

On the episode today they were talking to different people about what the new President meant to them. Included in this episode was a group of kids in a literacy program that wrote letters to President-elect Obama and they have complied them into a book Thanks and Have Fun Running The Country: Kid's Letters to President Obama. 

I got to thinking, what a great project to have my students do in conjunction with the Presidents Day story I had already decided to read during my story time that week (well 2 weeks, I do a 2 week rotation of my story times since my school is so big).  I had decided to read a book about Abe Lincoln (had not decided exactly which one yet) and I thought this would be a great introduction, since Obama has mentioned himself reading biographies of Abe Lincoln (have you read THIS article in the NYTimes yet about our new President and his love of reading? You must!)

I am wondering how I am going to approach this with my younger Kindergarten students, but I am thinking they might be able to handle drawing a picture and the adults (the teachers, aide and I) can help them write what they want to say.

I also thought about binding them into a book from our school and sending them to the White House.  I am sure that there will be THOUSANDS of letters like this being sent to the White House in the coming months, but what kid wouldn't like to go home and tell his parents "I sent a letter to the President today" 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Illustrator Visit

Our school had a visitor this week - illustrator Michael White. He is a local Atlanta illustrator and has illustrated a few children's books, most notably The Library Dragon by Carmen Deedy!

Our PTA sponsored him and he visited with every child in our school (no easy feat when you have 1100 students!)

He does a FABULOUS job with the kids and he has the kids bring in paper and pencil so they can draw along with him. He left us with more than 40 of the illustrations that he did during his three days here - we will frame some for the media center and the PTA will be auctioning off some more to raise funds so we can have more visits like this. Here is one he did on Tuesday, which happened to be our 100th day of school.

I think author and illustrator visits are great for the kids and I think they get so much out of them. I also think that not all illustrators and authors are natural born speakers to children and I have witnessed some truly dreadful author presentations, that is why when I have a good one I like to give the person a shout out - I never invite/hire an author or illustrator unless I have seen them myself or have had some good reviews of the person. For all you media specialists out there, Michael is a great one!

Check out more of his work and info on author visits at his web site.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I think Mo says it best

I am in awe of the speech and so happy to share this piece of history with my students today.
Just wish I could have been in DC today - of course not in the freezing weather outside, but I would love to dress up and go to a ball - can't wait to see what the new First Lady will be wearing tonight!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tiara Auction

In honor of the publication of Meg Cabot's final Princess book, the NY Public Library is holding a Tiara auction. Authors - illustrators and other famous people (Bobbie Brown, Vera Wang, Julie Andrews are just a few) have designed tiaras for the occasion. It looks like the bidding starts at $150 and you have until January 31st to bid. Betsy Bird also seems to be excited about the tiaras in her Library - maybe SHE will get lucky enough to snag one for her department!

I personally want one of the Eloise tiaras done by Hilary Knight, but at $150 a pop, I don't think I will be getting one - ah but how cool would it be to have a little Eloise watching out over my media center.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tax Cuts for teachers

In the NYTimes today Thomas Friedman has an op-ed piece about what HE would do to stimulate the economy and not leave future generations with a mess.

This struck a cord with me because one of his "plans" is to eliminate federal income tax for teachers:

"One of the smartest stimulus moves we could make would be to eliminate federal income taxes on all public schoolteachers so more talented people would choose these careers. I’d also double the salaries of all highly qualified math and science teachers..."

He makes the point that many teachers cannot afford to purchase a home near where they teach. I know that for many of the teachers in my school, if they were not living in a two-income household, they would not be able to afford to purchase a home close to our school - myself included.

I know this is his own opinion, but in times like these it gives me hope that some people appreciate what us teachers do (even if we are not paid for it!)

On a happier note, Bono has a guest column up in the NYTimes today also - there is also an audio file of him reading the article - I love me some Bono!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

When times get tough, Libraries win..well sort of...

In the past two days I have come across two articles about how tough economic times = a boom for library usage.  

Katie Couric (link thanks to Diane Chen) has a notebook item about how libraries are the place to be in these tough economic times and she is encouraging people to dust off their library cards and "check them out".

The Boston Globe has an article today by Keith O'Brien that also explores the increase in library usage, but also adds in there the catch 22, in these economic times, library budgets are likely to be slashed, even if the libraries are increasing their circulation.

All this has me wondering what impact this has on school libraries.

The economic downturn will certainly have an impact on us.  Next year budgets for the media center are sure to be decreased (on a state and local level) and even though I still had a very profitable fall book fair, I am sure my profits will take a nose dive.

My patrons are loyal users, the teachers and students I serve often come to me before they hit the bookstore, so I am not thinking that my circulation will be up because of this, but I am thinking about what I can do to help the parents of our school.  I have always made it a point to talk up the public library and what they have to offer, maybe I need to do it more than once a year (summer reading time).  I have a small parent collection that hardly ever gets checked out, maybe I need to re-look at this collection and publicize it more, add more titles (of course this takes money).  I help run one after school program for 5th grade readers one day a week (readers rally, a reading competition our county holds), maybe I need to look at what else I can offer after school for students.

I think that building a stronger partnership with the public library in these times can only be a win win situation for both the school and the public library, I just need to figure out exactly how to do that.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year - Back to reality!

It was a great break and now it is over.  For some reason our illustrious school district decided that it was a good idea for teachers to have a work day yesterday (Friday) - I guess it wasn't so bad (I led workshops on using Discovery Streaming video and BrainPop to our teachers all day long) BUT it still was not a great way to end the vacation, made worse by me stepping over my sleeping children (they like to sleep in the family room during break - weird kids, I know) on my way to work yesterday.

In other news, I got this tid bit from Jen Robinson -  2009 is the year of SCIENCE - I love it!  Over at Loree Griffin Burns blog she gives us all kinds of resources to use in the year of Science. January is Process and nature of science month - the last two weeks of January I am doing my SNOW unit and we are making snow in the media center - I think this goes along with the theme.  February is Evolution - I might have to be creative on this one!

Also this week, the Cybils announced their finalists - and I am happy to report that I have actually READ a lot of the books mentioned here (which makes me feel better, the end of year best of lists were making me feel bad since I had read so few of the books mentioned!) Of course, I did end my vacation yesterday with a trip to the public library to check out a few of the books I missed!

And finally, now that 2009 is here I am getting really excited about my two author visits in March - Deborah Wiles and Nina Laden!  I love reading Deborah's blog and she had a great bit of wisdom for the beginning of a new year: 

" Real life, as Uncle Edisto tells us, is messy.  It's not organized, no matter how hard we try to contain it.  The best we can hope for is some semblance of sweet routine, and meaningful daily rituals."

Here is to hoping that 2009 has some routine, rituals and some sweet surprises in store!