Monday, September 28, 2009

Johnny Appleseed story time

We have dried out here in Georgia, but some of my friends have been hit HARD by the flooding, My former school had a lot of flood damage and is STILL not open yet and there are many families that still cannot go back to their flood damaged home. I have seen flooded areas on the news before but NEVER imagined that it would happen here.

On a happier note, we are celebrating apples in the media center this week. Check out my Whrrl story about our story time and art project.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Snow" day in September and musing on Web 2.0

Yes, that's right, I am writing this at home in my pj's at 10am on a Tuesday - YES, I should be at school, NO I am not sick, but we are home because of our 2nd "snow" day, which really is a rain & flood day off from school. For those not in the metro Atlanta area this sounds like another CRAZY thing us southerners do, cancel school for RAIN (my father was laughing out loud when I told him) - but really, look at this:

I have never seen this much water in my life, my neighborhood is ok and from what I could tell yesterday, my school is fine, but there are schools in our district that have parking lots and fields under water and I have heard that a few schools even have water IN the schools. It is CRAZY how much rain has fallen in our area since last week, I have heard reports that in my area, 18" of rain has fallen since Sunday - and to think we went through a severe drought last year!!

Since I am home from school, I am doing a little thinking about web 2.0 tools and the way I use them. I have posted before about my online time and how I have tried at times to "back off" being online so much (a failed attempt) but while while I have been thinking of ways to streamline my use of these tools and also thinking about ways to TEACH these tools to my staff (and maybe to other media specialists in my district) I have come to a few conclusions:

Facebook: - I will admit, I am obsessed, but I have figured out that although I have a few "work" related things on here, this is my personal time. I keep up with family & friends on here, I vent about my kids on here and share pictures of my kids doing funny things on here, to me this is personal networking and I am keeping it that way.

Twitter: I had signed onto this last year and then never used it - but THEN I checked out a few "professional" contacts on Twitter, had some new people "find" me and I have been hooked ever since. Twitter is my "combo" tool.. I use it to connect to people professionally, librarians, authors, book publishers and teachers and it is also my Red Sox nation source, and who knew that I would become "twitter friends' with a librarian who is ALSO a Red Sox fan! I have gotten so many journal articles, blog posts and information from my Twitter followers. I recently sent a tweet out about wanting to find some readers theater resources and I got a few GREAT suggestions from fellow media specialists and teachers. This to me is a tool I can use for many purposes, although it is SO hard for me to express myself in 140 characters or less!

Blogs: Although I don't blog as much as I would like, I still find it a great source to share and "meet" other media specialists. This blog is (mostly) a professional blog, although I have been known to "talk" about my kids, the Red Sox and Jon Bon Jovi, I mostly talk shop here. In my Google reader, though, I do have 2 different groups set up, Mommy Blogs (which, really, I should change the title of that to personal blogs) and professional blogs, and I cannot tell you how much information I get from these people. Being a media specialist is sometimes a lonely job, you are the only person in your building who does what you do and people "just don't understand" what you do some days. Reading these blogs not only gives me ideas on how to do my job better, but also is like sitting in the teachers lounge with my "grade level".

All the other stuff: there is SO much more to Web 2.0, photo sharing, ning groups, wiki groups - it would take me 3 days to talk about it all, but I think that it is my JOB to know what there is out there, although it is also my job to figure out what will help me, personally and professionally and stick with those tools that I am comfortable with.

Here is a great article by Joyce Valenza about using these Web 2.0 tools to teach kids. Here in my school district, many of these tool are blocked, but if anything, I wold love to teach the TEACHERS about these tools. The kids are using them at home, wouldn't it be great if we could teach them that they could be doing a little learning too while using some of these! I love what Buffy Hamilton (one of my Twitter friends) is doing with social networking and high school students, I can only hope that somewhere down the line, I can incorporate these into elementary classrooms too.

Well, I am going to check out what kind of damage there is in our area, I hear the park where we play baseball and football is under water!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Tomie!

Today is Mr. dePaola's 75th birthday and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka (who I hear is from my neck of the woods, central MA) has a project to wish Tomie a happy birthday - go check it out here. (Thanks to Fuse for letting us know about this cool project!)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A garden for a sunny Saturday

I can't believe I haven't heard of this before, but one of my favorite authors - Peter Reynolds (I swear he wrote his book Dot for my son and Ish for my daughter - too bad HE doesn't know that - LOL!) has a new book coming out! I read in Publishers Weekly today that he is coming out with a new book, dedicated to Rose Kennedy called Rose's Garden. The article was about the publisher (Candlewick Press) moving up the publication date to October and they also provided a link to the Telefable version of the book on the Rose Kennedy Greenway website.

It is another great story - whether you are a fan of Mrs. Kennedy and have visited the Greenway or have never stepped foot in Boston, you will love the story about a girl trying to beautify a city and of a girl trying to make her way in a new place.

Of course as I was reading the Telefable I was already planning the story time I will do with it - I can see the students making their own paper flowers and I will have to show them some pictures of the REAL Rose Kennedy Greenway (which I walked on this summer) and maybe include a picture of the famous steaming tea pot, which I used to walk past every day one summer when I was working in downtown Boston and was the inspiration for the tea pot that Rose rides on in the story.

Now off to pre-order the book!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Story time this week: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

With 950 kids in my school (K-5) I do a different story time every two weeks. This week and next week I am reading Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett. If you frequently tune into the Disney channel or Nickelodeon, you know that there is a movie coming out based on the book (they show the preview every 10 minutes!) so I wanted to make sure the kids knew that the book came before the movie - LOONG before the movie - when I tell the kids I was 9 when the book came out they all say "WOW" - so far nobody's called me old... but I am waiting!

After we read the book I do a little science lesson with them. I created a Whrrl photo story to show you highlights from our story time.

Happy Friday!
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Decatur Book Fest 2009

The Decatur Book Festival was this weekend, and as usual it was FABULOUS!

I only got to go on Saturday and for the first time, I spent more time in the teen area than at the children's stage, but my daughter and I got to see some GREAT authors.

First up was Kate DiCamillo - she had a standing room crowd and I had aspirations of getting my copy of Tales of Despereaux signed, but the line was SOO long that I decided that hearing her was good enough.  She read from her new book, The Magician's Elephant, out on Tuesday and answered lots of questions, mostly from the kids in the audience.  The thing that shocked me the most about her - she is SOO tiny, I mean the woman must wear a size - 0  - yep, so jealous of her!
Here is a video I took of Jon Scieszka introducing her:

Speaking of Jon Scieszka, we saw his presentation about "Guys Read" - he had lots of funny, inspiring things to say and told us some great stories about his family. I am telling you, my dream author dinner party would include this guy - and of course Mo Willems - and maybe take place in Mo's chalkboard dinning room... I have a feeling it would be one non-stop laugh fest! So boys, I am available anytime you are.....

My daughter got to hear one of her favorite authors, Lauren Myracle and we were introduced to Sara Shepard, the author of the pretty little liars series. She was also a teeny-tiny author - what, so do these woman not eat when they write?? - My daughter & I really enjoyed her talk and bought the first 2 books in the series.

Our last author of the day was David Levithan - he was just like I pictured him, kinda of a nerdy/hip New Yorker - he looks like some of the guys I went to college with actually!  He read from Nick & Norah and also from his new book, Love is the Higher Law, a book I now MUST read! He also shared that he is writing a new book with Rachel Cohn and also writing a  book with Mr. John Green - that is exciting news! He closed by giving us his current favorites he is listening to - wish I had written them down, I am always in the mood for some new music, especially when the suggestion comes from a hip New Yorker (which I am not!)

I wish I could have gone back today, but family duties interfered - can't wait until next year!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Odds & Ends

Two very different links today - one from Buffy of the blog Unquiet Librarian - she is a high school media specialist in GA and is SO inspiring. She is teaching a web 2.0 class and her students have lots of LOVE for the library - read her post here - lots of inspiration for those days when you say - WHY do I do this??

On another, sad, note this article came to me today from SLJ about a district in California closing all their school libraries. This is SOO sad to me, not just from a professional aspect (is MY job in jeopardy one of these days?) but it saddens my heart. My guess is, the kids that these schools serve are the ones that NEED access to books and NEED to be taught by a librarian how to search and how to use a library and be shown how AWESOME libraries can be. I hope that somehow they can find the money to keep these libraries open.

And one more article.. one that made me YELL "Someone else gets it!!" after I read it. It is an essay by Susan Straight on the reading program AR (Accelerated Reader.) She says what I have believed for years and have told many a parent and teacher when I have been approached and asked "When is our school going to get AR?" I of course have other issues with it, including the cost and the time it takes to manage the system, but in my heart, the issue I have with it is exactly what Ms. Straight has with it, kids read for the points and are not reading for the pleasure of reading.

I had a tough end of the week last week dealing with some issues about working in a HUGE district and feeling like the "suits" just don't get it...just don't understand what it is like for us in the trenches. I am doing my best to get through my feelings and not blast the district, but it is times like these that I miss being in a small private school (of course I do not miss the small paycheck though). But I am determined to start this week out right. I am doing my LAST orientations this week and will finally get to what I love most about my job, story times and collaborative lessons with teachers - YAY!