Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Penny Dreadful Lunch Bunch Book Club

My friend and Atlanta author, Laurel Snyder has a new book out, Penny Dreadful and to go along with her book she has started a book club - not just any book club but a book club where the participants will read books from a list that "Penny" & Laurel have come up with. There are some great books on the list, many are classics (Ballet Shoes) and many are newer titles, destined to be classics (The Penderwicks).

I wanted to find a way to have some of my students participate in this so I came up with The 4th grade Penny Dreadful Lunch Bunch Book Club. I went into the six fourth grade classes we have here at my school and talked about the program - that we would all read a book from the Penny list (all read the same book), meet once a week at lunchtime and eat lunch in the media center and discuss the book. I was thinking I would have 5 or 6 kids want to participate - I had a HUGE response - so big that I realized that a big group like that would not work. SO I choose 12 students out of the responses as the first group. I have kept the names of the other students and I will choose 12 more after the New Year to be part of the next group.

I had chosen to read The Penderwick's as our first book because 1. I love the book and 2. I had seven copies of the book. The problem was, I had seven copies of the book and 12 students participating... So plan b was I would choose two different books to read. I had 6 copies of Because of Winn Dixie (another favorite of mine) so I decided that it would be the second book we would read. At the first meeting of our lunch bunch book club I talked about the club and how it would work and I divided up the students into two groups and handed out the books. We have met twice since that first meeting and the club is even better than I imagined it would be. The kids are having a great time discussing the books and I have been pleasantly surprised at how excited the students are to talk about the books! Because we are meeting every week, I ask the students to read to a certain chapter so we can all discuss the book up to that point. This week my Because of Winn Dixie group surprised me and all of them had finished the book!
The only downside to this group has been that we have had to divide into two groups. I really want to try and get at least twelve copies of each book that we read so the whole group can read one book and they can all participate in the discussion together.
As part of my quest to get enough books, I have created a project on If you need a tax deduction before the end of 2010 or just want to donate to our project we would be SOO appreciative! Here is the link to my DonorsChoose project. Take a look at the rest of the site, there are some GREAT projects out there that teachers are trying to get funded. I donated to a project at the high school in my hometown and I want to donate to a few more projects as part of my holiday donations.

Speaking of the Holidays, Hanukkah is almost over (last night is tonight) and Christmas is just around the corner - and more importantly for me, winter break is only seven school days away - two weeks where my alarm will not go off at 5 am, I am SOO looking forward to it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Veteran's Day

This week is book fair and all the craziness that comes with it, but last week and next week I am reading a story for story time that I just love (and WARNING.. it might bring tears to your eyes as you read it) and am a doing a project to celebrate Veteran's Day.

The book is The Imposisble Patriotism Project by Linda Skeers. The book is about a boy who is not too happy about a President's Day project that his teacher has given the class, create something about patriotism. He goes about asking his classmates what they are doing (a paper mache liberty bell, a map of the US, dressing up as the Statue of Liberty) and is still stumped. He finally has an idea at home while looking at a picture of his Dad, who is not at home at the moment. I won't give away the ending, but it is a bit of a tear jerker.
Before I read the book, I talk with the class about what Veteran's Day is and what a Veteran is and also about what Patriotism is. After the story the students are writing/drawing letters to Veteran's with the kids. I have two different templates, one for my Kindergarten students who will be drawing a picture and one for my students in first grade and up who will be writing a thank you letter to our Veteran's and our active service people. Since I see so many students, I am giving these thank you's to a variety of places. I have a few Veteran's that I know (some from WW II) that I will be giving a few letters to. I also have an address for an active army unit that I will be sending some of these to and I will also be dropping some of these off at the Veteran's Hospital in Atlanta.

Today on our schools morning announcement show I showed this video of my son interviewing my grandfather, a WW II vet and purple heart recipient. The funniest thing about this - one of my third graders asked his teacher if my grandfather was from a different country because he sounded like he was - the teacher replied "No honey, he's just from Boston!"

And one good thing about having book fair this week - look what we got in yesterday at the book fair!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Getting Ready to Deck the Halls

So it is that time of year again, I almost drove off the road last night when I passed the local library and it was all decked out in Lights! Garland! Wreaths! yep I guess November has been forgotten and we are right into the holiday season. But then again, this reminded me that I do have to get going on those kind of holiday things - gifts, decorating, holiday story time (I am still deciding this one) and a gift of appreciation for my volunteers. I don't have a whole lot of volunteers, but the ones I do have are FABULOUS and I want them to keep coming back.

Taking a que from some of my teachers who have cards made of their class, I decided to make some cards specific to the media center this year. Shutterfly has some great options for photo Holiday cards. I am thinking of taking a nice picture of my clerk and I in the library, maybe with some props and creating a Holiday/thank you card to send to my volunteers. I have picked out this card because I can include quite a bit of type on it.

Shutterfly also has some great gift ideas, I do a calendar every year for my mom with pictures of all her grandchildren in it - this proves more difficult every year because my siblings keep having new babies every year, but it is now something that is EXPECTED of me. I was thinking of a way I could do one of the smaller calenders for the media center - maybe give these away to my volunteers - would it be too forward of me to circle in red their volunteer days (ha ha).

You can take a look at all the holiday cards and other gifts that Shutterfly has to offer - and until TODAY (11/3) when you order one calender, any others are 30% off (but hurry!!)

Calling all bloggers! You can receive 50 free greeting cards from Shutterfly

This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. I was selected for this sponsorship by the As Cape Cod Turns, which endorses blog with integrity, as I do.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reader's Theater podcasts

We have successfully finished our first unit of Reader's Theater with our fourth graders. This group had a harder time understanding the "performing" aspect, but I think they did well. It will be interesting to see how they improve when we do this next unit with them.

Here is our podcast of the Tuesday group's Reader's Theater. Once again, the audio is a bit too loud in spots, so I need to work on my recording techniques before we do this again.

My favorite is the student who plays the Wolf in the True Story podcast.

The Three Little Pigs Reader's Theater based on the book by James Marshall

The True Story of The Three Little Pigs a Reader's Theater based on the book by Jon Sciezka

Thursday, October 21, 2010

PLEASE Vote for ME

Ok, so I was asked by my district office to apply for this contest from Follett - the prize is a trip to their user conference in March, which looks AWESOME. We use their Destiny products and I love them - they are super easy to use and our county office also makes it easy for us to use these products!

So yesterday I came up with an idea for a video entry - it is quite cheesy and I have forever embarrassed my children with this, but it was fun.

If you have a chance, please look at the video on the site and vote for me - you can vote by logging into Facebook or you can register on their site - if you register on their site PLEASE make sure when they send you a confirmation email to click on the link (which takes you back to the site) then click on my video AGAIN and click VOTE.


I have embeded the video here, but it looks a litle "off", so you can also go here to watch and vote.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin

Last week I used the book How Many Seeds In A Pumpkin by Margaret McNamara. It is a great seasonal book that incorporates math and counting/estimating skills. Since we hosted a school wide math night two weeks ago, this was the perfect tie in.

For our activity I first showed the students a video I put together, it included a clip about how a pumpkin grows that I downloaded from Discovery Education (this is a subscription site, but if you teach in the state of GA we do have access to it), a time lapse video from YouTube about growing a HUGE pumpkin and a cute music video from Brian Vogan, "That's How a Pumpkin Grows". Then we started counting pumpkin seeds - for my older students (2nd grade and up) I gave each table a big pile of seeds and they had to count the seeds by grouping them in groups of 2's, 5's or 10's. They had to write down how many groups they had and then write down how many seeds they had. For my younger students, I made index cards with either 2,5 or 10 written on it. They had to glue the number of seeds that it listed onto the card, then each table counted by the number on the card (so one table had cards with 5's on them and we counted by 5's etc..).

Here is a slide show on how the lesson went. This week I start one of my FAVORITE story times of all - Boo Bubbles - will post pictures soon!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Welcome COMO attendees

Thank you for coming to my session and visiting my blog. Below is my presentation from today's GA COMO presentation Reader's Theater with a Technology Twist.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Books that brought me to tears and guess who

yeah, so this week not one but TWO picture books made me a little teary - you might chalk it up to the fact that my first born asked a girl to homecoming this week and she said YES (his first "date") but even if your first born isn't about to go on his first date, these might make you a misty eyed.

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems - this book didn't get me until the end - and I won't reveal the ending, but if you enjoyed Mo's previous Knuffle Bunny books, this one won't disappoint. Also, head over to Mo's blog and check out a little audio of him and the REAL Trixie - so sweet!!

The other book is one I didn't expect to get teary over, but did - My Mommy Hung The Moon: a Love Story by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell. In this book the mommy is a super hero that creates rainbows and bakes cookies and is good at everything. I think I cried at this book thinking of my own mommy, who is still a super hero in my eyes. I am actually getting this book for my Mom for her birthday this month, you are never too old to get a picture book as a gift! Right now in my house (1 teenager, 1 almost teenager and a 10 year old) nobody thinks I hung the moon, so maybe I was a little misty eyed for the days when I got big hugs whenever I came home and big kisses every night before bed.

In Media Center news, it has been BUSY here - and I will post about some of the goings on here next week, but for now I wanted to leave you with a little October project I am starting. I am going to have a MYSTERY person every week in October. I have a picture of the person behind a mask and a few clues about the person. The people are all people that we study here as part of our social studies curriculum. Students can guess who and I will choose some winners for a chance to choose a prize out of my prize box.

can you guess who??

hint: invented many things and was one of the first people to create a library

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wrap up of Where I'm from technology project

I am FINALLY done with the 5th graders and the Where I Am from project. Since I only see each class once every six days, it has taken me quite awhile to finish this. I think this project would have gone smoother if I could have seen the same group of kids four days in a row, they forgot too much in between class sessions., but I guess that is the curse of being a "specials" teacher.

Here is one of the PowerPoints:

I have these fifth graders for two more classes and then they go to the technology teacher until Christmas break. Today I started a digital camera project with them based on the book Flotsam. The lesson came from an idea I read in SLJ earlier this month. Today was my first day, and so far the kids LOVED it. I am doing things a bit differently than was described in the article and I created a step by step guide that they have to follow to take a picture, upload it to a computer and print it out on the color printer - I was so happy that they all seemed to be able to follow the directions. I will upload some of their finished pictures when we are finished next week!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Story Time this week: Edward in The Jungle

Last week I started my first story time of the year. Since my "theme" for story time this year is "Where Can Books Take You" I decided to start the year off "taking" the kids to the jungle with the book Edward In The Jungle by David McPhail.

My activity with the book for Kindergarten was for them to color a jungle animal mask that I had already cut out for them, then I helped them glue on a craft stick to the bottom so they could hold it up to their face like a mask. My activity for first grade was the same, except that I had the students cut out the mask (I cut the eyes for them, and I found this AWESOME tool at Michaels that lets you cut out circles perfectly!)

For my second grade students I decided that I wanted to jump right into research with them this year, so after the story we talked about fiction and non-fiction and I had non-fiction jungle animal books out on the tables for them. We talked about the parts of a non-fiction book (table of contents, title page, index) and I passed out bookmarks that I had made with the name of a jungle animal on them. They then had to find 3 "cool" facts about their animal, using the table of contents and the index, and then write their facts on the bookmark.

The kids loved the book and both activities worked out great.

To end my week last week I had some good news, I had been selected as the Teacher of The Year for my school - it is an awesome honor, especially because the two other teachers who were finalists are just AWESOME teachers (and I am not just saying that...they really are!)
Check out our story time last week!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Readers Theater, Blogging and some news

I can't believe that we are in week four of school, it is flying by already! I will FINALLY be done with orientations this week and I feel like the REAL year can start!

I am again working with our 4th grade focus teacher (what our county calls it's gifted classes) on a Readers Theater project as part of her language arts currciulum. Since this is our second year doing this project, we feel like we have a better idea of what our students are capable of and how to pace the lessons. This year we have two big classes (14 and 16 students) so instead of starting off with just one readers theater script for the whole class, we have had to break the class into two groups. We decided to choose scripts that are related to each other so we can also add in some writing exercises to the project and we wanted scripts with a little humor for our first project. We choose to do two adaptations of the three little pigs stories, The Three Litte Pigs by James Marshall and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.

We are on week three of our project. So far we have introduced the concept of Reader's Theater to the students, read them the books from which the reader's theater was adapted from and have given out the scripts. As part of this project we wanted to integrate technology into it. Last we we produced a podcast and a slide share slide show (with the students narrating the slides). This year we wanted to start using technology right off the bat, so we started a blog for each class. I wrote the introduction on the blog and we are choosing 3-4 students each class period (each class meets once a week) to blog. This week our question that they had to answer on the blog was: What do you think of reader's theater so far? Each blog entry will be counted as a language arts grade for this class.

Check out our Tuesday class blog here. Check back on Thursday and our Thursday class blog should have some student entries in it. Only one student really knew what a blog was when we introduced it today, but they all got so excited about it, even at bus call today I had students asking if they could come in at lunch tomorrow and blog!

In in other news, today I was announced as one of three finalists for our schools teacher of the year. The other two finalists are SOO much more deserving than I am and are such FABULOUS teachers, but it is such an honor to be recognized - and my Principal gave me flowers, so it was a great day today!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Off and Running and Where I'm From

What a crazy two weeks it has been, but a good crazy! Lots of orientations (I have almost all the grades done, first grade is this week and Kindergarten next week) and lots of kids checking out books already!

I am teaching a fifth grade special this year. I am splitting the teaching with our technology teacher and I have the first five rotations. The first rotation (we run on a six day schedule) we did my media center orientation (I thought since I had them in here I would get it out of the way.) The second rotation I decided to start a project using our state database system, Galileo. I decided to adapt the lesson plan, Where I'm from in Galileo for my students. Basically, the lesson starts off with us discussing the poem by George Ella Lyon, Where I'm From. Then I introduce them to the Galileo databases and I tell them that we are going to use these databases to find information on the place where we live now and we are going to create a Where I'm From poem and PowerPoint presentation on what we have found in the databases about our town. I show them a sample of a Where I'm from in Galileo PowerPoint (provided in the link above) and I also created a Where I'm From PowerPoint (but I did not use Galileo to find images since I am not from Georgia).

I am planning on this being a 3-4 class project. The first class period I spent explaining the project and showing them examples and then showing them how to save images off the database to their home drives on our server. The next class period will be spent gathering the images for their PowerPoint and writing their poem (the link above also includes a template for their poem). The third and fourth class will be spent creating their PowerPoint.

So far, the biggest obstacle - the kids do not know how to spell the name of the town they live in -Lawrenceville. Now, I can understand if they had just moved to the area, but many of these kids have lived here most of their lives. This was an obstacle I wasn't planning on with fifth graders!

Here is my Where I'm from PowerPoint, hopefully I will be able to share some of my students in a few weeks.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back To School

Was it just me or did summer just FLY by. Well, we are back to school and things are already crazy here in the media center. This year I am co-teaching a 5th grade technology special with the technology teacher here at school and I am really looking forward to it - although the first round of the special is regular old media center orientation, i think it will be exciting for the students to learn some new things in the computer lab.
I created a video again this year as part of my orientation - it saves me from having to repeat the same things 36 times, and it is pretty funny. I had some staff kids (including my own son) star in the video - funny thing was, all the kids wanted to be the "bad" examples (like how you shouldn't RUN in the media center). I am hoping to upload it to TeacherTube - while it really is very specific to MY media center, I am thinking that other people might want to use my ideas to make their own. I will post it if I get it uploaded.

I also started off the year by giving my staff goody bags - they were willed with information about the media center, our databases (Galileo) and some of our other subscription services (like BrainPop). I also included a sweet treat - orange creamcicle cookies - it took awhile to bake enough cookies for the whole staff (I packaged them in packages of 3 cookies) but I think it was worth it.

Here is a little slide show of some images from our first week.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Video

I just finished editing and uploading a video I created to show on Veteran's Day at school. YES, I know I am a little early, but this video is close to my heart - it is my son interviewing his great grandfather (my paternal grandfather and the man he was named after) about his time in World War II and his purple heart. My son had a little trouble getting serious, and he has some work to do on his delivery before he becomes a TV weather man (what he wants to do when he grows up ..of course after he becomes a major league baseball star... ahh to be 9).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Great Parties

In my next life, I want to plan book release parties - is there such a job - maybe book publicist?

Look at this GREAT book release party that Grace Lin had for her newest book - Ling & Ting - the fact that she MADE the cupcakes and the cupcake toppers - that is a dedicated author!

Now to think of how I can use cupcakes in the media center next year - I LOVE cupcakes....

Here is a cute trailer for the book

And all good things must come to an end...

I know it is only mid July, but as far as I am concerned summer is over. My "summer" is the three weeks that I trek with my kids up to Massachusetts. While I have lived in Atlanta ALMOST longer than I lived in Massachusetts, it will always be home and I am thankful that I am able to go "home" for such a long time each summer. I am also thankful that my family has a house on Cape Cod. Here is my photo essay of "What I Did on my Summer Vacation"

While we were in Massachusetts we got to take a road trip to Maine and visit author Matt Tavares and his family and hang out in BEAUTIFUL Ogunquit, ME

We got to hang out with cousins - and they are just SOO cute

And explore on the beach for lots of COOL things - jellyfish, sand dollars & lots of shells!

and we got knocked down by BIG waves and FROZE in the 56 degree water (at Nauset Beach..where they spotted a great white shark the NEXT day!)

And we took a boat to the beautiful island of Martha's Vineyard

We made it to Fenway Park (although I didn't get to go INSIDE, but my Dad, brother Tim, Brother in Law Joe and my son James DID get to go inside!)

and what is better than eating ice cream on the beach while looking at this

So now it is back to work - this week I have been getting in gear - thinking of things for next year, starting order lists of supplies I need and getting the last of my web 2.0 course modules done. I can't believe that the new school year is almost here!

Friday, June 25, 2010

This and That

It's summer, so not much going on library wise, so though I would share some other links.

Last weekend we spend the weekend in Panama City Beach, Florida (my very FIRST trip to the gulf!) for my son's baseball tournament. On Saturday, while we were sitting on the beach, a group of men came by us with blue latex gloves on, picking up things on the beach, they were looking for tar balls from the gulf oil spill and were finding small tar balls on the beach. A few minutes later a woman came out of the water and her float had small patches of oil on the side that had been in the water. I never thought that the oil spill would touch me, but it just goes to show you how HUGE of an impact this disaster is going to have on our whole country.
In other news, take a look at this blog post by Lisa Adams about the book If You Knew Suzy: a Mother, a Daughter, a Reporters Notebook by Katherine Rosman- I already had this book on my to read list, but after reading her post, I think I am going to take a trip to the book store tonight to pick it up!
This week I traveled to Massachusetts by car with two of my kids and my Dad - my Dad is awesome - who else would take a week off from his high pressure job as a bank CFO and fly down to Atlanta, travel with us to see his grandson's baseball tournament in Florida, help me try and fix my toilet (then buy me a new one when the fix didn't work) then drive 2 days, 1000 miles back to Massachusetts with me but my Dad. While we were at my house this week we had a great conversation about social media - it turns out that a mommy podcast that I listen to (Manic Mommies) is produced/hosted by a woman (@kristinsb) who helps run her families bank marketing firm in Massachusetts. She and I had a twitter exchange a few weeks back about my Dad and banking - I told my Dad this and as it turns out he has been trying to bring in some social media to his bank - which is one of the things she has done presentations on a bank conferences. I loved this "6 degrees of separation" conversation we had and that even though we are in totally different businesses, that I could turn him on to how social media works!
And to all my librarian friends who are traveling to the ALA Annual conference in Washington, DC or to the ISTE conference in Denver - safe travels and know that I am SOO jealous of all of you, maybe next year I will get to one of these great conferences!
Well, I am off to go swimming with my kids and my 2 year old niece Lilly, who is just the cutest little girl EVER!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Year in Review 2009-2010

High School media GODDESS Buffy Hamilton inspired me to create an Animoto video about my year in the media center. I had never used Animoto before, but thought it looked cool so I thought I would give it a whirl. I learned a few things, mainly, if you have more pictures/text than the song you choose allows, it just cuts out whatever it didn't have time for (so I had to choose a new song). The text tool is VERY limiting, so I ended up having to abbreviate a lot. Also, wish I had taken more pictures during the year- I am VERY cautious about putting students in anything I post on here, but looking back, I wish I had some more pictures of students engaged in activities in the media center.

Since this is my first attempt at any kind of annual "report" I think now I will know what I need to save/document for next year. Of course, Animoto is blocked in our county, so I will have to send this as an attachment so that my administration can take a look at it. I know that my Principal knows what I do, but I think it can't hurt to have it documented, especially with these trying financial times.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You're Never too old...

photo by Sean McCarthy, Twisted River Productions

This weekend was my daughters (she's the one in green) 9th dance recital (8th year at her current studio, North Georgia Dance & Music Factory) and, if I can be a mom for a minute, she ROCKED IT! She got a lot of compliments this weekend of how much she has improved and I am one proud mama.

Adult tappers (I'm 3rd from the right)

BUT it was also MY recital too - I dance in an adult tap class at the studio - I have a lot of fun and get to partake in my first love - dance (I danced most of my young life until college,marriage,babies got in the way!) I love the reaction that I get from students who see me at the recital all dressed up in my costume and rocking it onstage - I love that they are seeing that you are never too old to do what you love and to try new things (although tap is not a new thing for me). Of course this lesson is a great one that my web 2.0 students are learning this summer, many of them are coming out of their comfort zone and trying new things - and I am SOO proud of them! Check out some of their blogs:

It is one HOT day here in the ATL, stay cool my friends!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Book Whisperer

I want to move to Texas so that my kids can have Donalyn Miller as a 6th grade teacher (ok, so two of my kids would have to repeat 6th grade, but it might be worth it...). If you don't know who she is...why not?? She is a 6th grade teacher, author of The Book Whisperer and from where I'm sitting, a FABULOUS teacher.

Check out her latest post about what her students read this year, it BLOWS MY MIND that the average number of books read in her class this year was 57 - WOW.

So ever since I read her book I have asked myself the question, as a librarian, how can I spark that kind of interest in books with the students??

I started doing book talks on the announcements... that helped a little. I try and "hand sell" a book (which I think is one of Donalyn's most successful methods in getting her kids to read) but with 950 students, this is SO hard for me to do with every student. I have a reading program, but I KNOW it does not generate the excitement that I would like to see, and I still haven't figured out what would generate that READING excitement that obviously Donalyn generates in her classroom.

These are the things I think about all summer long, hoping that the light bulb will go off - I'm still waiting....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Feeling Summer!

I am sitting here reading my "students" blogs from my web 2.0 course and I am already SOO proud of these ladies - some of them are coming out of their comfort zone to take this course and it is SO great to see them embrace the technology that I love so much!

My daughter has her annual dance recital this weekend and so we have been listening to the same 5 songs all week that she will be dancing to this weekend - this one brings me back to the 80's - when I thought the B52's were so funny and never in a MILLION years thought that someday I would be "heading down the Atlanta highway" everyday. This song just SCREAMS summer and makes you want to dance!! Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer is here!!

photo by APDK via Flickr
Well it has been a week since the kids have left school, a few days since I left school for the summer and already, I am sunburned (from the Braves afternoon game I went to today) and have yet to put a toe in our neighborhood pool (but it does look promising for a pool day tomorrow!) but my exciting summer news is that I am teaching/facilitating an online web 2.0 class this summer.

This web 2.0 journey started earlier this year when my Assistant Principal asked me to come in and explain podcasting to her - when I started going on and on about podcasting, blogs, wikis - she called me a geek and told me that I needed to teach her what I was talking about. It got me thinking to the original 23 things course by Helene Blowers. As I did a little more research I came across Shelley Paul's awesome adaptation for schools, called K12 Learning 2.o. I came up with the idea that I could take these two courses and tweak them a little for our specific school community (after getting permission from the original course facilitators). My administration loved the idea and told me I could offer it to our teachers as a summer course worth 2 PLU's. I expected to get a few people interested, I would have been happy with 5 people, but to my surprise, I now have THIRTEEN teachers taking the class this summer!

We started last week and today I had my first three students start their blogs (and they look great!) This is an online course, but since it is offered just to teachers in my school I will be available for tutoring sessions, either in person or remotely by phone/email or google chat. If this goes well I am hoping I can offer it to media specialists in our county and other teachers at our school.

Of course, as with most of the things I take on, it took me a lot more time to get everything up and running, but I think that (or hope that) the people who are taking the course get something out of it and at the very least, be more comfortable using technology in their classroom.

Well, it is time to do one of my favorite summer activities - watch 2 hours of So You Think You Can Dance with my daughter!

Happy Summer!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Author Visit - Matt Tavares

It has been a YEAR in the making, but last week our school hosted author/illustrator Matt Tavares. Matt was great and the students loved him. He talked about how he writes and illustrates his books and he tailored each presentation to the different grade levels he saw throughout the day. He also has the COOLEST story about how he uncovered some facts about Hank Aaron's first home run in the major leagues - my students found that to be pretty cool! The story is on his website if you would like to read it.

While Matt was here, he also filmed a segment for our local school districts' TV station, GCPS TV. They call the series The Author in You and Matt filmed here with a few of our students. The TV station is now online and I will post a link to the show when it is on their website. In the meantime, check them out, they have some great original programing.

Since Matt writes a lot about baseball I decided to try and get our local minor league team, the Gwinnett Braves (GBraves) to host a night for my school and also host Matt that night since his latest book is about the most famous Brave of all time, Hank Aaron. I put the GBraves in touch with Matt's publisher Candlewick Press and they arranged to have Matt throw out the first pitch, have the first 200 kids receive a copy of Henry Aaron's Dream and have Matt sign them. And I SWEAR I had nothing to do with this, BUT who were the GBraves playing that night... yep, the Pawtucket Red Sox. My youngest son, the aspiring Red Sox player ,got to go on the field with Matt and help him warm up before the big pitch, I think it was a thrill for BOTH of them to be on the field. Matt did a great job throwing out the first pitch, but I think he was a little disappointed that the Paw Sox didn't come recruit him (then again, the way the Sox are playing these days, maybe they made a mistake!). I ended up selling 400 tickets to the game and our chorus sang the national anthem (they did such a great job!) We all had SUCH a good time and the students thought it was SO cool that Matt and his family sat with us at the game!

I love author visits, and to me, they are so worth the time, effort and money that a media specialist puts into having them, but the two days that Matt was here and all the activities that we had planned while he was here was SOO much fun and so worth it. It might be hard to top this next year....

Take a look at this quick slide show for pictures from Matt's visit.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Poetry Cafe

Finally had a chance to put together a slide show with pictures from last weeks Poetry Cafe. I think it was a HUGE success - I think doing it after CRCT was the key (a lot of teachers seem to do poetry after the CRCT) and talking it up to the teachers and to the kids on announcements I think helped with the response I got - I have actually held it over one more day to accommodate all the teachers that wanted to sign their classes up. This will definitely go in my plans for next year! And like I said to the kids - everything sounds better when said into a microphone!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Poetry Cafe so far..

has been a HUGE success. The teachers are loving it, the kids are loving it and I am loving getting to wear a feather boa and reading some of my favorite poems, many of which I have not thought about in a very long time. Thank you again to Andy Plemmons for the ideas!! Tomorrow is Poem in your pocket day and we will be celebrating here all day!!

Here are a few pictures of our Poetry Cafe - I am hoping to put together some kind of video or slide share once the week is over.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Never Enough Time- Book Review & Poetry!

Do you ever feel that way?? I always have these great ideas to blog about.. then somehow I never have enough time to get them typed up and put on the blog. I never seem to have enough time to do all I intend to do in the media center either, last week I realized that we have 30 days of school left and there are STILL things I wanted to do this year that I have not... so once again I have started my to do list for the 2010-2011 school year. And don't get me started on my personal stuff that does not get done.. let's just say that if you are looking for dust bunnies, come on over to my house, they have invaded and I wouldn't mind getting rid of a few!

Ok, now that I have gotten that off my chest I DO have a few things I wanted to blog about.

COUNTDOWN by Deborah Wiles
I don't usually do not do too many book reviews on here, so many other people do a much better job (and once again, I never have enough time to READ as much as I want to!), but I wanted to give a shout out to this book. I was lucky enough to have Deb visit my school last year and she kindly sent me an ARC of her newest book. WOW. You can read full reviews here and here and here.
The book takes place over a week in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and is the story of twelve year old Franny Chapman. It is a historical fiction novel, but so much more. It is also a novel of friendships, a novel of coming of age and a novel of family. The most interesting thing about the book is that it is peppered with historical images, speeches, song lyrics and short biographies of some of the people mentioned in the novel. While I sometimes found them distracting while I was reading, I did go back and look at these and I really like that I could do that without looking them up on my own. I think having them as part of the book will make this book a great resource to have in a classroom.

I am already thinking of ways to use this book next year with my fifth grade students who get a crash course on sixties history in the last part of the school year. I think it would be a great read aloud, but, I also think it would make a great group read too. Of course I would also love for the kids to all read the book then have Deb come for a visit to talk with them about it - since, if you read her blog (and if you aren't WHY NOT??) you know that this book has a lot of Deborah's own experiences in it. I followed her blog while she was writing this book and I felt like I already KNEW Franny even before I started reading the book. The book is out May 1st - the buzz is, it is going to be BIG - and it couldn't happen to a nicer person!!

Poetry Month
As you know, April is Poetry month, but here at my school it tends to get a little lost since we start off April with Spring Break, then come back from break to have two weeks of state testing (CRCT). So, I was looking for a way to somehow SQUEEZE something in at the end of April. Well, thanks to a tweet from Buffy Hamilton, alerting me to a blog post from a school in Athens, GA, I think I have found a way to do it. I am planning on doing a poetry cafe next week and celebrate Poem in your Pocket day on Thursday April 29th. I am pulling out my poetry books and looking for ways to decorate our cafe next week. I am also trying to figure out how to get teachers EXCITED about this and how I can do some kind of Poetry board outside the cafeteria, maybe some kind of board painted with blackboard paint? Looks like a trip to Home dept might be in order! Wish me luck and thanks again to Andy Plemmons for the GREAT idea - I love my PLN!!

Well, it only took me two days to finish this blog post - maybe when my kids are older and I don't spend every weekend spending hours at baseball tournaments and shuttling kids to dance classes I will finally have the time..... if any of you have figured out a way to add an extra hour to the day, let me know!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A student makes a plea to save her librarian!

I am on spring break this week, enjoying the beautiful weather here in Atlanta while also sneezing from all the pollen here (but it is raining here as I write this, hopefully washing away some of that icky yellow pollen that is covering EVERYTHING here). I am working today on my web 2.0 class (more on that in another post) but I came across this plea from an eighth grade student to keep her librarian on staff at her school. Author Mitali Perkins posted it on her blog and it is a must read.

The news lately seems to be such doom and gloom for our school systems, layoffs, furloughs, cut backs, it makes me worried as a school librarian, as a parent and as a citizen of the United States. I hope that our nation and our cities and towns can find a way to save our schools.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Celebrating Spring!

Ever since I found this TeleFable online last summer I have been DYING to do this for story time in the media center - well it is FINALLY spring and we are making flowers in the media center this week.

The book is Rose's Garden by one of my favorite author/illustrators Peter Reynolds. The TeleFable story (he owns the company with his brother) came out before the printed book as a tribute to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway in Boston. The Telefable was so popular, they rushed the publication of the book to last fall.

I love sharing with my students new ways to read a book (even though I do think the good old fashioned way is still pretty good too) and the TeleFable is a great way to tell a story to them, and so far they have loved it!

After I read the story, the students are making tissue paper flowers. This has proved to be a bit more challenging for my Kindergarten students than I thought, but with a little teacher help, the flowers have turned out well. Take a look below at some pictures of our week!

As for me, I know spring is FINALLY here because I have started to unearth all my flip flops from their winter hide out AND it is only 9 more days until Red Sox opening day - Sunday night, 8pm, ESPN vs the Yankees!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Science Story Times that ROCK!

Here is my presentation from the Georgia Children's Literature Conference on science story times. Many of the story times I describe in my presentation have been highlighted here on this blog, but now they are all in one place! If you attended my presentation - THANK YOU - since I am posting this on Thursday night, before I actually present, I hope you enjoyed the presentation and I didn't do anything too embarrassing - like tripping over my laptop cord (yep, happened before). Thank you to the Georgia Children's Literature Conference for letting me present!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reader's Theater performance

This is a PowerPoint that my 4th grade readers theater group did with Melissa Stewart's FABULOUS readers theater script (that goes along with her book, Under the Snow).- they drew the pictures to go along with the book and this was the background during their "live" performance. I had them add the sound to the PowerPoint yesterday so that I could post it. I had a hard time finding a place to "host" it so that you could hear the sound, this is the result - my voice is the first voice you hear and it sounds like I am talking with my nose plugged - which I was not and it does not sound that way on the original PowerPoint, but, you'll at least get to see what my kids have been doing. Next project for this group, they are choosing a book and writing their own readers theater that they will perform for their parents near the end of school in May!

Check out the slide show here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Leprechauns & Rainbows

My Favorite holiday is almost upon us - St. Patrick's day! I'm a nice Irish Catholic girl from Massachusetts so of course St. Patrick's day was always a big holiday where I grew up, so I try and share a little of the history and music with my students (most of whom don't know what the holiday is!).

This year my St. Pat's story time is all about those funny little people - the leprechauns! The story: That's What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting (a daughter of Ireland) The activity: making rainbows using science. I turn off the lights and have a glass of water, a flashlight and a piece of white card stock - I talk about how rainbows form and then shine the light into the glass of water and a rainbow appears on the white paper - MAGIC! Then I turn the lights back on and pass out rainbow glasses (I found these in our science lab, but you can order them through Steve Spangler Science also) and the kids LOVE these.

I have already started celebrating the holiday and I made an Irish feast last night, corned beef & cabbage, bangers & mash (Irish sausages & mashed potatoes) and homemade brown Irish soda bread (new recipe, which was yummy!)

Don't forget to wear your green on Wednesday!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dr. Seuss Project

Wanted to give an update on how my first FLIP video camera project went! - It went better than I expected and I learned a lot. The teacher was so happy at the outcome and the kids seemed to love seeing their "book ads" on tv in the morning. I have tried to figure out a way I could post them here, but they have students in them and I can't figure out how to put a black dot on their faces - but for next time I found a GREAT idea - have them put masks over their faces as they read - then I CAN post them, not only here, but on my schools website as well!

The biggest thing I learned - we need to use a tripod! The kids video taped each other (we had a groups of 5, one was the videographer and the others were on camera) and I realized that no matter how hard they tried, they wiggled the camera and the result was a wiggly video. I think that if the project involved shorter video clips or video clips where the subject would be moving, it might be ok to do it without a tripod, but for something like this a tripod is a must. I just hope that the tripods I already own work with the FLIP cameras.
I am hoping to try at least one more project this school year, but as we approach spring break and testing season, my teachers have so little time to do some FUN stuff like this.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Read Across America Day!

Our school celebrated yesterday, but, I had a touch of the stripes yesterday....

The picture misses the fact that I did INDEED have painted stripes on my face and I had some striped tights on too!

But I did eat my lima beans yesterday and I am feeling much better today!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Getting Ready for Read Across America Day (week!)

As most of you know, Read Across America Day is next Tuesday, March 2nd. Due to some school scheduling conflicts, our school is celebrating it on Monday, March 1st, but here in the Media Center we are celebrating it all week.

Today, I am starting a collaborative lesson with a fourth grade class. We will be learning about how to write a book review with a little research thrown in. The class is divided up into 5 groups (about 5 students in each group), each group will choose a Dr. Seuss book to write a review of. All the students will read the book, then the students will write a review of the book. One student will be the researcher and will be in charge of finding one or two interesting facts about Dr. Seuss. The kids will then film a short book trailer (using the written review) using our new FLIP video cameras. The students will also include the cool fact about Dr. Seuss at the end of the review. I will then take the videos, clean them up a bit and we will air them, one per day, on our morning news show every day next week. I have done a quick little Google site to organize the project.

I am a little nervous that it will all get done by Friday, but I know that the kids are going to be SO excited to use the cameras and to have their work shown on the announcements.

My spring book fair is next week, so we will be very busy in here with that. On Monday, the literacy coach and myself have set up some guest readers (mainly, people in our school, such as the custodians, cafeteria ladies, school secretary, the principal, etc..) to read to each class. I am also sponsoring my 3rd annual faculty Dress Like a Book Character day (which reminds me, I need to figure out some prizes for that!) We are also encouraging all the teachers to include some special reading time in their day on Monday (but wouldn't it be nice if they did this EVERY DAY!)

Speaking of Dr. Seuss, Amy at Time to Renew has a cool Prezi presentation on the life of Dr. Seuss.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


For the 2nd time this winter our area has been blanketed by snow. Luckily for us, it happened on a Friday afternoon so there will be no snow day and even better, no snow make up day (we were suppose to have yesterday and Monday off, but instead we have school due to flood and snow make up days - BLAH!)
Here are some pictures of the snow in Georgia yesterday and today. I just hope it melts on the roads today, I have plans tonight!!