Thursday, September 20, 2018

Marie Marquardt Author Visit

As soon as I received the SC YABA nominee list last year, I went online to investigate having an author from the list come to our school. I was excited to find out that Marie Marquardt, author of Dream Things True, Radius of Us, and Flight Season lived near Atlanta. I contacted her and we arranged for her to come have lunch with my book club, talk to our AP Human Geography classes, and give a keynote that would be open to the entire school.

Before her visit, I made this Elink to share other books related to refugees. 


I also made a loo review of her books to advertise in the faculty bathrooms. You can see all of my loo reviews so far this year here.



Most of my book club members read Flight Season and a few read Dream Things True and Radius of Us. The AP Human Geography students read either Radius of Us, Dream Things True, or Refugee by Alan Gratz for part of their summer reading. They all were required to read Outcasts United. Those students had a lot of questions about immigration for Mrs. Marquardt.
We enjoyed hearing about how her graduate research led her to start writing fiction about the topic she was studying and her inspirations for the characters in her books. We had a wonderful time talking to her. Several students stayed after to personally thank her and one of our ESOL students loved chatting with her in Spanish. Thank you for a great author visit!


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Summer Reading Update 2018

You can read all about our summer reading program here. We just had our freshmen summer reading discussion this afternoon and they went well. A few quotes from teachers:

"I LOVED LOVED my group today.  They were AWESOME!  They ALL read the book, had great insight, and asked if we could do more of that this year.  They liked that they got the books before they started state testing because most of them read the book when they finished testing.  AND....they re-checked it out to get a refresher before the meeting.  I was super impressed!  Thanks for coordinating!"

"My girls LOVED the book."

"Today was great...I needed to be able to do something positive with students and today happened at the perfect time."

A few quotes from students:

"I like how the teacher read the book as well and could talk about it."

"I (liked this format) because all I did was talk and I had to do no work."

"it was very easy to use and not stressful"

"it was fun talking about the book"


A few stats from the student survey they answered after the meeting:

90% read all or part of their book

97% gave their book a 3, 4, or 5 star rating

The vast majority liked that I came over to the middle school to show book trailers and have them select and get the book before the year ended.




Our sophomore book groups required some adjustment. We could not figure out a way to meet face to face with the various schedules so we used Flipgrid to record videos and have the students respond in the topic for their book. Classes have been coming this week and I grossly underestimated how self-conscious the students would be to record themselves, even though the responses are not very personal. I'm going to have to meet with the teacher and re-evaluate before we plan for summer reading next year. I also had a hard time getting teachers to come in and record their initial video so I had to step in and do several myself. Not what I was hoping for!



Expedition Everest

One of my teachers is using the article, Blind to Failure, in her classes and she wanted to build some prior knowledge before they read. I thought a hyperdoc might do the trick so I made this one using Google Drawings.

You can see the full Drawing with instructions and links to the side here. You'll need to make and link your own Fligrid if you use this with students.
The teacher will be assigning this in Google Classroom and making a copy for each student so that they can type the 3-5 things that they learned about Mt. Everest.

Wren Read Book Club Service Project Update

The service projects for our book club have been going very well.

We had 9 haircuts donated for our Books and Barbers program. Seven went to one of our Title 1 elementary schools, where the guidance counselor gave them to families in need. Two stayed in our school, where they were given to students that wanted to participate in ROTC, but were unable to pay for a required haircut.


We handed out hundreds of books during our summer lunch program.


Our first visit for Books and Braids was also a success.


It was so much fun to read to the little ones and give them some one-on-one time and let them practice their read aloud skills. Our plan is to visit monthly.

Another idea in the works for next semester is working with the 5th grade at the elementary school across the street. We hope to read Wishtree by Katherine Applegate, discuss the book with the 5th graders using Flipgrid, and culminate with planting a wishtree of our own.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Reading to Be a Better Writer


My administration requested that I put together a professional development session on how reading can help with writing skills. Writing is our focus this year so I was happy to help out.

This is what I put together.

For our activity, I purchased picture books that relate to the content of each department. You can see my notes and list here. Using the BHH strategy from Disrupting Thinking, the teachers are asked to use these sticky notes that I ordered from the Dollar Tree and respond to each category.

I hope to show them that incorporating reading and writing will not take away from teaching their content, it doesn't have to be time-consuming, and it can be fun. I also made this chart showing the many options for reading assignments (more than novels/textbooks) and writing assignments (more than essays).

Our instructional technologist is going to co-teach this with me and show them how to take a photo on the Chromebook, save it in Drive, and upload it to a Google Slides presentation. And possibly a few more Google tricks if we have time.

We have this scheduled for October. I'll let you know how it goes.


Library 101 Courses

At the request of my Freshman Academy, I created 5 lessons for our newest students. These lessons are to introduce them to library services and policies and help address some of the most common mistakes seen by our teachers during research projects.

Lesson One: Introduction

This is my "orientation", although really it is just me introducing myself, library programs and lessons, and information about our book club. The lesson ends with a genre quiz so that students can easily navigate our genrified fiction section.

Lesson Two: Plagiarism

This lesson was inspired by this post on Cult of Pedagogy. I saved an article from NewsELA called "How do owls see in the dark?". Each student is asked to read the article then take this Google Quiz.
We will review those questions after the quiz. Students will pair up and read another article from NewsELA and practice using the paraphrasing techniques in the Slides. I selected easy, non-controversial articles so that the focus was on plagiarism and paraphrasing and not reading ability.

Lesson Three: MLA Citation
I turned my MLA citation into a Goosechase game. You can find all of my clues here. This lesson should make citation a little more fun. If you have more questions about Goosechase, contact me.

Lesson Four: Research Tools
Students will learn about tools that should make research easier, like Destiny Resource lists and SC DISCUS. Students will use our state databases to research a topic of their choosing, practice paraphrasing techniques, and complete this template in Docs.

Lesson Five: Fake News
Students will complete this Fake News Digital Breakout that I made with the help of my instructional technologist. They'll use sites like Factitious, Edpuzzle, and a news bias chart to solve the clues and break out. Contact me if you'd like to see all of the parts and pieces so you can make your own.

We've already started these lessons and they are going well so far. I'd love to hear how you help your freshmen adjust to high school.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Banned Books Week 2018

This year I put together a lesson for Banned Books Week. Luckily, teachers enjoyed the lesson last year so I already have some classes signed up for the lesson at the end of September.

The lesson starts with watching this short video.

Then students create a book selfie with a banned or challenged book (from a cart that I prepulled). I created a template in Slides to make it easy.
The second activity asks students to write a thank you tweet to an author of a banned or challenged book. Again, a template was made in Slides to speed up the activity.

Finally, students are asked to read this article about a SC issue with censorship. Using Kami on their Chromebooks students will highlight important details. 

Censorship is such an important issue and I look forward to these lessons each year.


District Teacher of the Year

I was thrilled to find out that I was chosen as the Teacher of the Year for my entire school district.
At our opening ceremony, the award was announced and I was able to give a short speech to all of our teachers and staff.
Image may contain: one or more people, people dancing, people standing, people on stage, wedding and indoorImage may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standingImage may contain: one or more people


We were also honored with a luncheon where I was asked to speak to our school teachers of the year and support staff of the year.
I started that speech off by reading I Am A Story by Dan Yaccarino and sharing a bit of my own teaching story.
Image result for i am a story by dan yaccarino

I asked that each teacher share a story. I made this with a few recommendations and encouraged them to share the stories they selected on this Padlet.
A focus of both speeches is a quote I modified to fit the teaching profession. I made it into an image using Canva and Adobe Spark. I shared these with my school and all of our school teachers of the year so that they could share with all of their faculty as well.


It is an honor to be selected and I will do my best to represent my school, district, and all school librarians in our competition for the state Teacher of the Year.


YAhooligans 18-19 1st quarter

I have posted about our YAhooligans program in the past. 
For our first quarter, our tech tool is Our Story, which led them to their reading assignment. 


Teachers were asked to watch the video explaining OurStory from "We Need Diverse Books" then scroll to the bottom of the page, click OurStory Teen, then under Explore, and click TAKE THE QUIZ. When they get the quiz results, they had to write down at least three titles from the list that sound interesting and share them as a comment in Google Classroom. When possible, they chose one of those books for the reading assignment.

We have 16 teachers signed up for the course this quarter.




Let's Taco Bout Books

This summer I challenged my teachers to read. All of the info can be found here.

To celebrate the ten teachers that completed the challenge, we got together during a staff development day and Taco Bout Books.

I bought Klondike Choco Tacos and we all shared the books we read over the summer. We filled up a board with sticky notes of titles. One of my teachers read something from every category so she won a Book Nerd hat from Out of Print. This was a fun way to reconnect after the summer.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Summer Book Giveaways 2018

In an effort to stay connected with my students and teachers over the summer, I'm doing book giveaways on our school library Twitter and Instagram accounts. @wrhslibrary


Each week I post a question. Each student and teacher that responds is entered into the giveaway. I am using Name Picker Ninja to choose the winner.


Here are my questions. I used Adobe Spark Post to create the images and Anyflip to put this together for sharing with you.


I'm using books that I've won on Twitter giveaways to offer this.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Speak Up, SCASL!

I was so inspired by the Texas Association of School Librarians' program called "Let's Promote Libraries".  With permission, I created a version for our state association, South Carolina Association of School Librarians.

I decided to call it "Speak Up SCASL". My goals for this program is to bring more awareness about what school libraries offer our students and teachers, highlight our impact, and advocate for school libraries. I'm looking forward to implementing this program next year as part of our Legislative Committee's efforts.

I put this together for our association's Fall publication. If you go to the link, you will also find where our current SCASL president noted the AASL standards related to each of the month's topics.



I made this graphic in Canva to advertise and share the program. I'll really push this on our organization's social media accounts as the summer ends, but I wanted to share it now so that others could do something similar in their state.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Round Robin Booktalks for Summer Reading Goals

This post inspired me to put together a lesson for my students. I started the lesson with a booktalk of my own. Then I shared this Scholastic Booktalk Tip Sheet and asked students to create their own 1-minute booktalk.
Here are the slides for that lesson.
I gave them this handout, so that they can plan out their booktalk, write down books they'd like to read, and set a reading goal for the summer.
After writing up their talk and pulling up the book cover on their Chromebook, we lined them up face to face on either side of some short bookshelves so they could share and rotate.


This post also had several great ideas for summer reading. I incorporated some of the ideas in my lesson by reminding them why it is important, sharing my summer check out form, helping them plan in lesson above, and sharing my social media accounts, where I plan to do some book giveaways and book talks over the summer.

I altered the lesson a bit with my upperclassmen and added a moment to share reading memories, time to explore some Best of YA lists, and asked them to create a Summer Reading Bucket List graphic on Google Slides or Google Drawing.

WHS Teacher Summer Reading Challenge

Summer reading is not only important for our students, but also our teachers. I've had some confess to me that they do not read so I wanted to give them a little push before the summer begins. It is so important for our teachers to have a rich reading life so that they can help our students create one.

I put together this Smore of Reading resources and shared the WHS Summer Reading Challenge with them. For the first ten teachers to commit to the challenge, I am putting together a prize pack inspired by others that I've seen on Twitter and Pinterest. The plan is either a reusable beach/summer inspired print bag or a plastic margarita style glass full of summer items like travel sunscreen, drink mix, Freeze pop popsicles, snacks, fliers for local summer reading events, public library calendar, our district summer lunch program, bookmarks, and pencils. I'll share the final product on Twitter when it is complete.
I shared this Smore on Monday and I have 9 already committed to the challenge.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Hair-Raising Book Club Service Project

I love to follow the work of Jarred Amato and his Project Lit students. One of the components of his book club that I love is his service projects. Seeing their work, lit a fire in me to organize service activities before the year ended.
I started a book club this year and while small in number, we've done some really fun things. We've Skyped with Steve Schafer and had two author visits, Corrie Wang and Nic Stone. We handed out books at our Serteen Trunk or Treat and had students attend Read Up Greenville.
During our latest meeting, we discussed service project ideas. We discussed doing a book fairy style book drop around the community, inviting community members and groups to join our discussions, planning Books and Braids with our nearby elementary schools, and collecting new pajamas and books around Christmas.
The project we decided to work on first is one inspired by this news story.

We didn't want to burden one barber or stylist so we wrote a letter to distribute to local salons, beauty parlors, and barbers. As donations come in, we plan to attach this coupon we made on Canva to a hair-themed book. 

We made a wish-list on Amazon for hair-themed books at all different levels. I reached out to the Project Lit and Future Ready Librarian Facebook pages for suggestions.

We will distribute the books and coupons to our feeder area schools so that our guidance counselors can give them to those most in need for a Back to School haircut.
We just shared the letter today so we all look forward to hearing back from our community soon. If you'd like to recreate this in your area and need a copy of something I've shared, send me a tweet at @coxtl and I'll be happy to help.
When school starts back we plan to collect donations of new combs and hair ties so that we can start visiting elementary schools for Books and Braids. This was their favorite idea so I'm looking forward to getting that started next year. What service projects do you do?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Summer Reading 2018


Last summer I started a summer reading program called Wren Reads. You can see the posts here, here, and here. It was a big success. After meeting with admin and English teachers we discussed participation. According to teacher feedback and an anonymous student survey, 90% read some or all of their summer book. We really wanted to increase those numbers. We thought there were two main obstacles keeping them from reading: 1. students didn't get their first choice of book  or 2. students were not able to get a copy of the book. Based on these issues, we decided to arrange the sign up a little different. Instead of having the teachers choose a book and then cutting off sign up when the group is full, I chose 18 books, booktalked them, students signed up for their preferred book and then we asked teachers to take one of those groups. This allowed us to have multiple groups for the most popular books. To address access, I'm ordering as many copies as I can for check out and I am offering them the option of ordering from me because I can get them at a discount from my vendors. To keep that process easy, I looked at the prices and chose a price that was in the middle. Most books were $7 and a few were $8 and $11, so I set the price at $8 and I'll use some of my funds to cover any overage. 
My admin thought that the program went so well with the rising Freshmen last year, that he asked me to offer it for rising Sophomores that were not in an Honors English course (those students already have assigned summer reading). I did give my teachers for the Sophomore group a little more say so in the book lists since this is their first time participating and I wanted to draw them in and make it a positive experience for them as well.

You can see the Sophomore book options here and the Freshmen book options here. I love using Elink to curate and share these lists. My library intern put these together for me this year. Many of these books are also on our state award list and some are just books that I loved and thought students would enjoy. 

For each list, I created a presentation for sharing. You can see them below. I have playlists on Youtube here and here. Some of them are not the best and I skipped and just book talked them instead.






I met with the rising Sophomores a few weeks ago and the rising Freshman last week. Our middle school is across the street so I packed up a cart and walked over.
 I grossly underestimated how bouncy the road was and had to stop every few seconds to pick up books that I was dropping like breadcrumbs across the street.

We used Google Forms to collect the student's choices. In Sheets it makes it very easy to sort by class, class period, book titles, etc for ordering and planning purposes.

I made signs for each teacher to put on their classroom or office doors. You can find those below. In addition, I created a shared folder in Drive with book discussion guides for those available and a list of general book discussion questions to help the teachers that are nervous about leading the discussion in the Fall. I'm lucky enough to have volunteers from admin, office staff, and teacher assistants, in addition to classroom teachers.




Another change this year is that I created a Remind group for both levels. I used the Schedule feature to put in links, quotes about books, book trailer links, etc. You can see all of the posts in this doc.

I'm planning a delivery day party for both groups where they'll receive their already checked out book or the book they ordered with a bow tied around it and a book mark inside with their name on it. I also made this Airhead graphic on which I'll tape a mini Airhead candy. I made those in Canva. We're going to take pics, sign up for the Remind group, play music and invite the local public librarian in to share details about their summer reading program. I'm hoping to turn this into a fun event instead of an assignment.


I'd love to hear about your summer reading plans. If you have any questions, find me on Twitter at @coxtl and I'm happy to share anything that I have.


Partnering with Adolescent Lit College Students

Image result for clemson tiger paw
This Spring I was able to see Penny Kittle, author of Book Love, speak. One of the takeaways for me was that she connected her students with college students for book discussions using Flipgrid. I loved this idea.
After working with a nearby university on a book grant that didn't come through, I suggested that we try this. I was connected with a professor that teaches an  Adolescent Literature course. 
We emailed a few times and spoke on the phone. I opened it up to our English teachers and had three people interested. We plan to have our students connect in October and again in November on Flipgrid as part of their literature circles. 
The college students are required to read The House on Mango Street, The Good Braider, If You Could Be Mine, The Hate U Give, and How It Went Down. They must also choose two or three from an optional list divided by theme. I went through the list to see which titles we had multiple copies of so that our students could read those along with the college students. This is the list:
Under the Mesquite-ordering 10 copies for a novel in verse unit
Long Way Down-4 copies
All American Boys- 4 copies
Boy 21 5 copies
Monster- 29 copies **
Girl in the Blue Coat-4 copies
Salt to the Sea-3 copies
Refugee 55 copies**
All We Have Left 4 copies
Full Cicada Moon- ordering 10 copies for a novel in verse unit
Home of the Brave-ordering 10 copies for a novel in verse unit
Between Shades of Gray 4 copies
Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda 31 copies **
Wonder 21 copies **
Out of My Mind 21 copies **
Turtles All the Way Down 3 copies
Every Last Word 4 copies
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks 25 copies**
The Sun Is Also a Star 3 copies
Speak 71 copies **
We Were Here 3 copies
Out of the Easy 3 copies

I'm really looking forward to this collaboration. I'm hoping that this will be a good motivator for our students. 

I'm considering different frameworks for discussion like the Book-Head-Heart framework from Disruptive Thinking, the conferencing questions on Penny Kittle's site, or other frameworks for helping the students compose their Flipgrid responses. What method do you and your teachers use?

Do you connect with any nearby colleges or universities? If so, how?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Summer PD 2018

Last year I created and facilitated a summer PD course on the importance of independent reading. You can find the details here.
I'm lucky enough to have a library intern right now and I wanted to do a student survey with her since I feel that they are a great insight for me into what the students need and want. So she created this reading survey for the students. Teachers posted in their Google Classrooms and we had over 450 responses.
You can see the raw data here. My intern, Miss Windsor, was kind enough to do a little data analysis on it, which you can find here. She is still sorting through it all. It is meticulous work. I also added some of my thoughts and comments on the side. Their responses prompted me to design another PD course for this year. It is obvious that there are areas we need to improve upon.

Here are a few things that stood out to me that I shared with my teachers so that we can use to try to reach our reluctant readers.
  • 32% said they did not like to read. 
  • When discussing the last book they read and enjoyed a good story/plot and interesting were the most frequent answers followed closely by it related to my life. 
  • When discussing the reasons for abandoning a book, students most likely mentioned that the book was boring, confusing or a genre that they didn't like.
  • 45% reported that they read 0 days outside of English class.
  • When choosing a new book to read the top three answers were browsing in the library/bookstore, recommendations from friends, and movie adaptations.
  • Yet 37% NEVER recommend a book to others.
  • For the majority of students, the last time reading was fun for them was in elementary school.
  • When asked what teachers can do to make reading more fun the answers in order were: choice of what to read, time to read in class, lit circles/book clubs in class, and encouraging a variety of genres.
  • The obstacles listed by the majority of students as preventing them from enjoying school reading were assignments attached to the reading and books were not relevant to their lives.
  • The most popular genres were action/adventure, mystery, horror, and fantasy.
I shared with our teachers in the hopes of encouraging them to participate in the summer PD I have planned called: Building Your Classroom Library. *I just couldn't think of a creative theme this time:) 
The course is a self-paced course in Google Classroom. I've submitted it to our district in the hopes that it will be approved for renewal credit like my course last year. 
These are the 5 tasks;
1. Evaluate your classroom library. Teachers will open this PDF of an article in Kami, read, highlight important details, and use pg 63-64 to evaluate their own classroom library. 
2. Read a literacy PD book such as Disruptive Thinking, Reading Unbound, 180 Days, Book Love, Readicide, etc and respond on Flipgrid.
3. Read the research article in Kami, highlight details and use the commenting feature for Aha moments.
4. Listen to this Donalyn Miller podcast, then use Soundtrap to respond to the podcast. 
5. Create a Donors Choose project requesting books that will address weaknesses in their classroom library. 

As soon as the district approves the course, I will be anxious to see how many teachers (if any) will participate. Honest reflection is difficult, but I hope that by going on that journey together we can do what is needed to improve our practice and reach more students. I hope to help them improve and build their classroom libraries. Classroom libraries and school libraries go hand in hand. Access! Based on student responses, I feel that students need help choosing a book, something I can address when they come into the library. My intern and I plan to make some kind of handout/infographic to help with that. Students need to hear more book recommendations from teachers and peers. I can help teach book talking skills and continue to model and share when they visit me. It may be time to reevaluate the assigned texts in the room as well as looking closely at what type of assignments correspond with reading. We need to make time for reading in class and protect student choice. These are best practices frequently hailed in books and articles, but sometimes it means more when you hear it from your own students. At least I hope it will!

Monday, April 23, 2018

NLLD 2018

Part of my responsibilities as Legislative Chair for SCASL is to attend the National Library Legislative Day in Washington, DC in May.
I know from attending in previous years that it means more to bring my students' voices to the legislators than my own. I'm amplifying my students' voices by bringing "Why I Love My Library" postcards. I shared the template with our state librarian listserv and I have responses from 8 different school of all levels in different parts of our state. They are really sweet.
I created a Fligrid for student videos responses to the same prompt. You can see it here. I have videos from five different schools. I've selected some of my favorites to feature. I created a QR code to the videos on a card that I'll be sharing with the legislative offices. I made the background in Canva and inserted the QR code, then I printed on cardstock to take with me.



Finally, I had an idea inspired by Flat Stanley. I'm going to be taking nine books with me to DC. One from each of our districts plus two for our Senators. I'm going to be documenting the book's journey to DC and to the legislator's offices. There I'll be asking the staff (we usually meet with staff, not the legislator) if they'll have the legislator sign the book then mail back (I'll provide stamped, addressed envelopes). Because we meet with staff, I thought this might be a good way to have something go in front of the legislator himself and he'll at least here that school librarians came and have us on his mind. It will also be fun for the students to watch the journey and learn about government, their legislators, and how advocacy and lobbying work.
I opened this up on our library listserv and had volunteers from each district send a book to me. I've enjoyed seeing which books they selected to make the journey. I'll post pictures on Twitter and write an update after the NLLD event on May 7-8.

Poetry Picnic 2018

I rejuvenated an idea that I used at my former library, the Poetry Picnic. Here is my original post with the site that gave me the idea.
I changed some of the stations to adapt for high school and added a few more.
You can find all the stations here:



I had several Freshman Academic Enrichment classes and one English teacher to sign up. The favorite station was Pop Sonnets. If you don't have this book, I highly recommend it. Here are a few pictures.


Some of their work was very thoughtful. I kept my favorites to put on display.

SC Read In 2018

Each year our state association, SCASL, and the SC State Library plan the SC Read In at the State House. You can read about it here.
Students parade to the state house where there are brief speakers about the power of reading, drum line performances, the Cocky Express from USC, followed by reading on the statehouse grounds.
We had over 2,000 participants this year and a few recognitions by local press.


I shared a letter template on our state listserv so that schools could invite their legislator to meet them while they were at the State House. This is a great opportunity to advocate for reading and the impact of public and school libraries.