Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday School Conversations and Rick Bragg


This has been a great weekend.  Several things happened to make that so.    First of all my youngest son took about a minute, 15 seconds, off his personal best in the high school cross country meet he ran in.  And, in that same day, my other son came home for a visit.  He’s busy in college and it’s a rarity that he just drives home for an afternoon.  I’m so glad he did!


Second,  my youngest  was the only one in Sunday School class this weekend.  Normally, I wouldn’t say this is a good thing because of course we all want all of our young ones to be in Sunday school class, especially once they become teenagers.  However, it was just he and I (the teacher… don’t you wish your mom was your Sunday school teacher… nope!)  Anyway, the lesson was about Satan’s influence on our lives.  The lesson began by telling how that Satan was one of God’s leading angels and then he decided to take on God and, of course, he lost the battle and was cast out of Heaven, and so on.   We talked about his and the Garden of Eden and Eve’s choice  and how the apple was not the problem, disobedience was the problem.  I took a moment to say to him that even though he is not perfect and does sometimes makes mistakes, he take the advice his father and I give and does better.  


He’s getting ready to go to college and that’s a scary thing for me.  I know that just like the other two, he is so wanting to make the world a fair and better place that I worry he will not always see the danger that lies just ahead.  I hope that over the next two years,  I can have time to instill in him things to look for and be wary of.  I keep telling myself, my other two children have navigated moving away from my watchful eye successfully, I have no need to worry about him.


Finally, the third thing … I introduced him to Rick Bragg’s essays on the last page of Southern Living magazine.    We had a conversation about how my fantasy of the South is usually about plantation homes and football tailgates with lots of friends and lazy Sunday drives with the top down.  I explained to him that I know that is not the true version of the South.  It’s quite a bit more complicated than that.  But, I like my fantasy.  Living in Southern Missouri I realize I’m not a true Southerner… I only play one in my head.  The thing I like about Rick Bragg is that his essays mix my version and the real version effortlessly.   So before you look at all the wonderful decor and recipes in that magazine, be sure you read the last page.

I’m going to have to fit more of these conversations with my youngest in during the next two years.  Or, maybe I’ll do what I have threatened with the other two and just go off to college with him.  Think he’d go for that?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

#nErDcampMI... oh Wow!


When I began this journey as a librarian I looked for resources.  I had the certificate telling me I was a certified librarian and I had attended some webinars and I was not shy in asking questions of my neighboring school librarians, but I decided to learn more.  I thought about checking into an MLIS; I'm still thinking about it.  

I'm not sure how I found popular bloggers.  I probably searched for popular literacy bloggers or perhaps book experts.  Who knows... I came upon several blogs including Nerdy Book Club,  Colby Sharp's Sharpread and Mr. Schu's MrSchureads.  That led me to nErDcampMI.  I had watched from afar for the first few years, but this year was different.  I attended!

It's really difficult to describe what this is like.  The attendees are authors and literacy experts and librarians and teachers.  There were 1600 people there and if I could have I would have stood and conversed with all of them.  Of course there was some awesome giveaways and there were a few vendors.  There were book giveaways and books you could buy.  The pre-conference panel focused on diversity and there were workshops and panels about lots of different things.  




I can't begin to say thank you enough to all those who volunteered to make this a truly worthwhile event.  I came home with a new clarity.  I came home with lots of books.  And, I came home with memories of an experience I will not soon forget!  


Sunday, April 23, 2017

It's Sunday night.. Are you ready to go back to school? I am!

The year is slowly winding down.  There are four weeks to go in the school year.  I'm teaching summer school and so I'll be back to work the Monday, after the Thursday, of the last day of school.  Summer school s a wonderful way for me to extend student's reading adventure and also teach somethings that I am enjoy like sewing and cooking and theater, etc. And, it will be over by June 16th.  So, that leaves an entire eight  weeks of summer vacation left.  Yay!

I have big plans this summer!  Myself and a colleague are traveling to nerdcampMI in Parma, MI!  I can't wait to absorb information.  When I first became a librarian I sought out practical information about how to facilitate student learning about books in the library.  I knew all the practical stuff, but I wanted realistic advice about what books to purchase, what authors to follow, etc, etc, etc.  I found several blogs that were very helpful including nerdybookclub, sharpread, mrschureads, vanmeterlibraryvoice, and scholastic to name a few.   I can't wait to meet some of these authors and teachers in Michigan this summer.

I'm also going to travel to the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum.  I've always wanted to go there.  When I first became a librarian her books had made a resurgence.  This year checkout has gone down a bit.  I'm hoping to find some inspiration to get them back in steady rotation again.

So,  I guess you could say that my vacation will be spent continuing my quest for more information to make the library the best it can be.  I want it to be better next year.  The middle school communication arts teacher and I are doing a book study on Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer.   She came in the library about a week ago and said that she was reading this book.  And my reply was, I'm re-reading this book!  We've decided to team up.  Makes sense.  Even though I'm a K-12 librarian, my most frequent clientele are 3-6 grades.  How can I make it better?  I'm always looking for information.

I hope you're planning for an exciting summer!


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Twitter as a Professional Development Source


We all know the value of Twitter as a source of information.  There is a lot of stuff out there!  I teach in a small school and although my administrators have been very supportive of me and all our teachers attending conferences, we obviously can't attend something every week or even every month.  We all try to get to one each year.  

Twitter offers a way for me to keep in touch with other educators and librarians and to continue to learn daily and weekly.  I follow some of the most interesting people in the literacy field including authors, librarians, teachers and administrators.  

I just finished #titletalk facilitated by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp.  There were probably 30 to 40 teachers and librarians in on this chat.  It was awesome.  I have always wanted to join this.  I am ashamed to say, this was the first one I have gotten to.  It won't be the last.  I have already set it up to re-occur in my calendar.  

Tonight we chatted about summer reading.  How do we keep students engaged.  Lots of ideas floated around.  The ones I gravitated to, that seemed realistic to me, were setting up a book swap before the end of the year, opening the library during summer school 2or 3 days a week, and maybe... setting up a little free library on our main street.  

Another thing that was discussed at length was the value of offering incentives to reading.  Does it hinder students becoming lifelong readers.  I am going to be reading the research on this.  Interesting topic.  It kind of flies in the face of what we buy into.  

I have a lot of books on my pile for summer.  I think I'll get an early start, like now!  




Thursday, February 23, 2017

So this Rarely Happens...


Rarely do my 7th hour, 5th grade group come into the library ready to work.  It's the end of the day and they are finished, finished, finished.  This hour is given to them to help them make the transition to middle school.  It's an hour where they can have a homeroom type atmosphere and I can help them get organized with homework, they can get anything they may have left in their lockers, or have free reading time.  Usually, when they enter the library, I here all kinds of things like, "What are we going to do?"  Or,  "Can we have free time?"  But today, oddly, when they came in I said, "You have two options:  Poetry notebook or Book report."  They went right to work. Crazy, I know. 

When I said those two things, they knew immediately that I had been chatting with the middle school ELA teacher and that there were deadlines looming ahead.  Throughout the year I have battled them over deadlines and becoming responsible and really just using this time to work thoughtfully.  Are they listening, finally?  

We have been working on poetry all week.  I have been showing them examples of Poetry Slams and kids writing poems.  We have investigated all the poetry books in the library (I need more, by the way!)   I always try to connect what they are doing in class to something in the library and I'm taking this opportunity to teach them a little about free verse and how they too can put together a poem without a formula.  

I am very proud of the progress we have made this year.  Personally, I think 5th grade is really too young for middle school and switching classes every hour.  But, I get it.  In order to make our staffing ratio's work out we have gone to a 5-8 middle school.  They adapt ok. However, this is the time of the year when I see them truly get the concept of middle school.  They grow up.  




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Books. Old Books. Books, books, books!



New Books.  Old Books.  Books, books, books!


Yesterday my son and I traveled to the big city!  We both had Barnes and Noble gift cards that NEEDED to be used.  As we headed into town, I remembered the used book store that we like to visit and so I made a left turn to head up to old town where it is located.  I love this used book store.  I have never paid more than 4 or 5 dollars for a book.  People donate books there and they also receive the weeded copies from the large public library and the very large school district located in this city.

Yesterday I found five of the "Who is/Who was"  biographies for 50 cents each!  I buy a lot of things for myself when I shop.  But some things, like those 5 I mentioned above, get donated to our school library.  After shopping here we headed to B and N.  Since it was just my son and I, and our purpose for coming to town was to shop for books (and Chili's queso), I knew I had time to look through all the shelves without rushing.   I started in the history section and picked up a book about Teddy Roosevelt.  I wonder how his presidency would have gone had he had access to Twitter!  I also purchased The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman.  Read the book, watch the movie!  I then headed back to the student section.  My Diary from the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson, looked interesting and so I picked that up also.

I believe that to surround yourself with books is to surround yourself with wisdom and opinions and knowledge from other sources so that informed decisions can be made.  I think those can be new books or used book or borrowed books.  I am always surrounded by books.  I am a librarian.  I choose to always be surrounded by books. However, I think this is good practice for everyone.  I love when students talk to me about books they have at home.  I always encourage them to bring in for me to see.  I look for suggestions everywhere!

The books I purchased yesterday are now added to the stacks of books that take over my house:  the living room stack, the bedroom stack, the dining room table stack...  No matter where I go in my house I always have access to a stack of books.  I like it that way!

Happy reading!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Elephant and Piggie, where have you been all my life?



I know I'm late to the party! But. Seriously. Elephant and Piggie where have you been all my life? I have heard about these books for a few years now.  The first one was published in 2007.  My youngest child was 6 then; and so, as a teacher and a mom, I should have paid more attention to these books.  I have read the Knuffle Bunny series and the Pigeon books, but for some reason, I had not read the Elephant and Piggie series.    

Scholastic put together a 6 book collection of these books and I ordered them. I'm so glad I did.  I will be buying more!  They are so funny. I love the way that any aged person can read them and put the sense of humor that they have into voice.  A first grade student will probably use a different tone than a 50 year old would. Books like this transcend generations.  

I also found that this set of books teaches valuable lessons about friendship.  The first one I read was My Friend is Sad.  This book is about the importance of sharing important things with those you love and that concept needs reviewing from time to time, no matter whether you are 6 or 36.  

Thank you Mo Willems!