Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tough Times

These are tough times in education - I know that phrase has been used for the past few years, but this week that phrase really hit home here in my world.

Galileo, our state database system is being threatened. Our new state education superintendent Dr. John Barge left if off the new budget proposal. The state DOE stated that while it is useful it is not necessary.

I have my students use Galileo databases on a daily basis (example here ) and I cannot imagine not having access to resources like this for my students. Martha Powell, a Georgia media specialist has a great letter up on the GLMA blog about WHY we need resources like this in our schools.

In my own school this week budgets were again cut. The good news is I will have a job as a library media specialist at my current school and I will still have a full time clerk. The bad news is we are having to do more with less staff and this includes me teaching specials next year and I am sure my clerk will be doing many things not related to helping run the library. I am not teaching specials all day, but it does cut into time when I could be collaboratively planning lessons with teachers. I am teaching a 5th grade special this year with the technology person at our school and I have seen that the 5th grade teachers have not been collaborating on many lessons or projects with me this year. A 5th grade teacher told me it was because she figured her kids were getting "what they needed" from me during the special. While, I am teaching research and technology skills during the special class, I still think it means more to the students when both the classroom teacher and I collaborate together.

I think times will get better and I am VERY fortunate to be in a school system that does value the role of the library and having a full time certified librarian in the library. I think in the mean time, we need to roll up our sleeves and do whatever is needed to help our students be as successful as they can be - I mean, isn't that what it is all about - the kids. Sometimes I think some people forget that.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Crayon Story Time

For my first story time of the year I searched for something unique to tie into Martin Luther King Day (which we celebrate on Monday - YAY another day off of school - not!) and I found this lesson plan (on an art teacher website, no less!)

I decided to use mix the lesson up a little bit. First, I showed the students the two books I was going to read to them - Martin's Big Words, The life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Doreen Rappaport (you can read any book about MLK, this just happens to be my favorite) and The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane Derolf (we do not have this title in the media center, but I did have a WORN OUT paperback copy that I bought through a Scholastic book order when my oldest was in kindergarten, see above picture) and I told the students to think about WHY I was reading both of these books, I told them that they went together and they had to figure out why. I read the books then we had a discussion about how the books are similar (and even my kindergarten students got it!)
After I read the stories we went to the tables and each student colored their own crayon. I used this crayon pattern, but in the interest of saving paper, I reduced the size so that two crayons fit on one piece of paper. For the K & first graders I had them draw a picture of themselves in the middle of the crayon. For the second grade students they had to write 4 things that make them unique in the middle of the crayon. After they were done I glued the crayons into a class crayon box. As usual, I over thought this and making the crayon boxes was more of a project than I thought it would be (especially since I am art challenged!).

It was a fun project and I think really helped to convey Dr. Kings message of love to the kids.
MLK day bulletin board

Snowpocalypse 2011- Atlanta style

I am currently typing this in my jammies at my kitchen table - WHY you ask am I not at work today..

We are on day FOUR of snowpocalypse 2011 here in Atlanta. ^The picture above was taken yesterday in my neighborhood. It seems to be a little better today, but since the Atlanta area does not seem to own any plows or sand trucks, we just have to wait for it to melt - which is a little hard when the temperatures seem to be staying below freezing. I have not left my neighborhood since Sunday, but I am determined to brave the ice and make it out of my neighborhood today! The kids had a great time playing in the snow the first two days, but yesterday I started hearing "I'm bored" I'm cold" I'm sick of playing in the snow" and the best was from my daughter "I hope we have school tomorrow". After two weeks of Christmas break togetherness and now this, I think we have officially had TOO MUCH family time. Unfortunatly my husband was not part of the family togetherness, he works for a local tv station and they were on "disaster" mode this week. He left our house Sunday night and he finally got to come home last night for a while before going back into the station for his "normal" shift. The news must go on!

Next week I start my annual SNOW unit in the media center, where we read snow stories and I "make" it snow in the media center - it is ALWAYS a big hit, but this year I am wondering since the students have seen so much of the real stuff if it will be as big of a hit?

I am sad that I had all kinds of things planned for this week - week two of my Martin Luther King story time (post of that to come), research with some classes, week two of my Animoto unit with 5th grade - now I have to adjust my plans and go on. I did get to read some books and catch up on some laundry, but as my thirteen year old daughter said "I'm all done with this snow now" I have to agree

Some pictures from my snow days

Here is hoping that we get some melting going on today!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Half Year!

Yes, I know it is a new year, but for those of us in the school system (at least here in Georgia) it is half-way through our school year. While I HATE starting school in early August, I do like that our half way point starts off the New Year. I have been spending the past few days trying to catch up on all that I *thought* I would do over our two week break (and didn't) and reflecting on what I've done this year and what I still have to do.

what I've done:
* started a new IMPROVED Reading Raptors program (my school wide reading program) - I like the way this program is going, although I didn't realize how much WORK it would be for me to keep up with the reading logs and prizes - I have a few tweeks for next year, but I think I FINALLY have something I am happy with.

*brought back the weekly reference question - while I thought I would have a lot more kids participating online, I am happy with the number of kids participating and researching using BOOKS here in our library

* started the Penny Dreadful 4th grade book club. This has been SOO much more than I thought it would be. I had more kids sign up then I could take, the kids who I did take into the book club are excited and having some AWESOME conversations about books. And the most exciting thing - right before Christmas my Donors Choose project was fully funded so I am ANXIOUSLY awaiting 3 sets of books for our club- this will also allow me to add another day to the club - YAY!

* Taught the first 9 weeks of the 5th grade technology special, doing projects on Galileo, PowerPoint, digital cameras and digital photography

* Did numerous story times for grades K-2

* started year two of my collaboration with a 4th grade teacher on our reader's theater project - this year we have added blogging to the mix!

* Presented at GA COMO and at my local districts professional development day

* Ordered LOTS of new books (which I am also anxiously awaiting for)

* and lest not forget running a pretty successful book fair and a helping coordinate a VERY successful school wide literacy night

* I won a scholarship to the Follett User Conference in Chicago in March (with the CHEESIEST video ever made)

* and oh yeah, I was named Teacher of the Year at my school (which I STILL can't believe!)

I feel like I still have SOO much I want to do these next 90 days. I have Dr. Seuss day projects to get going on, a 5th grade oral history project I am trying to get off the ground with a 5th grade teacher, poetry cafe, two author visits, another book fair to run and hopefully lots more teacher collaboration. The other thing I would like to do more of is blog - I seem to have this goal every year and every year I start out strong, but then life gets to me... maybe if I had an iPad to blog on ((dreaming..dreaming..))

Happy New Year!

Oh yeah - if you are in the Atlanta area this Saturday night (1/8/11) and you LOVE kidlit - stop by the first (of hopefully many) Atlanta kidlit drink night - 6pm at the Square Pub in Decatur - I am planning on being there with the lovely and talented Laurel Snyder - it should be a FUN night!