Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mustang Book Swap

Most of my recent posts have been technology oriented, but this is a low tech event. The library is hosting a book swap for our teachers and students. Students can bring unwanted books to the library and they will receive tickets that they can exchange for new-to-you books in December. We have advertised with flyers, morning announcements and word of mouth with my book club members. I am contributing some of our duplicate copies, older paperbacks and a few other donated (but not good enough to catalog) books. I weeded the collection HEAVILY this summer when I took this position. I don't want to admit how many in a public forum like this, but lets just say we have a great start for our book swap. I have already had around twenty students bring in books, averaging around 7 books each and up to 30! I am having the swap over three days. I have a feeling that when students see others getting bags of books to take home that they will come with their own the next day. If students do not have any to swap they can purchase them for 25 cents starting on the second day. I also plan to give teachers some tickets to give to deserving students so they can shop.

I wanted to have this before the holiday so that students would have plenty to read over the break. Research shows that having reading material in the home improves reading. Amazing, right? Our student population includes over 50% receiving free or reduced lunch so money to buy books is often an issue. I hope that by having this book swap now and again before summer break I can make a small dent in combating this problem.

We are also offering a similar swap for the teachers. I have not had a big response, but I am hoping that interest will ignite after returning from this break.

If you have your own book swap I would love to hear about how you organize it or if you plan to have one I would love to hear how it goes. I will update after our book swap is complete.
Image: Book Color Histogram by Patrick Gage, Attribution NonCommercial Share Alike

iDream of iPods

I have found myself daydreaming about iPod Touches now. I've gotten my Kindle program started. I am by no means finished, but I feel that I am making progress with six Kindles and a plan to start using them in class after the Thanksgiving break. This will definitely require more attention, planning, implementation and funds, but I have also found myself thinking of iPods.

From the outside I probably appear noncommittal and flighty, but when I see, hear, and read about the wonderful things librarians and teachers are doing all over the world I want to get in on the action and bring it to my students. I don't want to wait. I feel that my PLN would understand, but not so sure about some of the administrators around me. Luckily everything I am trying to implement has been tried, tested and proven effective by education trailblazers. And even better, those educators share their experiences on Twitter, and in blogs and online conferences.

I have been watching recorded webinars on using iPods from the Global Education Conference and reading tweets and blogs about iPod use. Gwyneth Jones, the Daring Librarian, mentions using them in her library and I Education Apps Review blog shares some excellent educational apps. They have inspired me. I will only be able to purchase four or five to start, but I have a team of teachers in mind to be my co-conspirators. My thoughts are to use this Spring semester as a brainstorm and preparation time with those teachers, me and our iPods. We can explore apps and use the first five for a few lessons in groups and see how it goes. Using them in class will take a big shift in attitude and planning for the teachers. I know this will require time and a positive attitude. If I can get this one team to give it a try with me I think it will catch on for the others. If it goes well (which I am confident that it will) then we can write grants, beg, borrow and steal to get more for next year. Just enough for a full class would be a fabulous start. If it doesn't work out I can use them in the library for lessons, podcasts, research, and more. This is our school's first year with Wifi so I want to use it! I think that utilizing iPods in class would really make a positive impact on interest, engagement, motivation and achievement for our students. I will update as I go and I would love any recommendations on where I can find out even more information on iPod programs in schools or your own experiences using them.

Image: Ipod Touch- My PDA by MJTR (´・ω・)

Non Commercial Some Rights Reserved

My Black Friday Lightning Deal

I snagged a Kindle 2nd Generation this Black Friday for $89. I recently started reading the blog, Books on the Knob, thanks to Heather Loy's email to our state association listserv (yes, we still have a listserv, see Cathy Jo Nelson's thoughts on that here). A few days ago there was a post alerting readers to a Black Friday Lightning Deal on for the 2nd Generation Kindles. They would be offered for $89 when they are usually $189. As you may know, I recently purchased Kindles to be used with our resource classes. I was excited about this deal. Instead of standing in line like many of my friends, I poised myself at 10 minutes to noon with one hand on the iPad and one on the netbook. I was determined to snag one. As soon as it opened I clicked as fast as I could. I was able to use the speed of the iPad to purchase one. I went back to the blog to post a thank you comment and saw that this deal sold out in ten seconds! Thank you Steven Jobs for your part in helping me get one. Check out Books on the Knob for up to date news on ebook deals.
I want to shout out to my principal, Barry Knight, for donating his personal Kindle to our program. After having it for a year or so he determined that he preferred books and did not use it much. I am happy to have it. This brings my count up to six. Considering the size of our resource classes this is a great start.
I have remaining money from the generous donation from the Student Council fundraiser. Now that I was able double the number from donations and a great Amazon deal I am thinking iPod Touches with the remaining money. More on that thought later...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Power of the PLN

If I ever had any doubts about why I spend time building an online PLN, those doubts were shattered today. This morning I received an email from, none other than, Lisa Nielsen, The Innovative Educator, and Willyn Web inviting me to contribute to her blog in regards to my recent post on texting in the libray. I created a Google Doc and jotted down my ideas and Lisa turned it into something great. I opened it up to the public and we tweeted invitations to contribute on #tlchat. Within minutes nine visitors had viewed the document. That amazes me. I look forward to the end result with contributions from other forward-thinking librarians. This is a wonderful opportunity to advocate for our profession and destroy the myth that librarians are old fashioned and resistant to technology. The post may be included in Lisa and Willyn's book "Teaching Generation Text" due out in the Fall of 2011.

If you have a story, idea, or thought that you would like to contribute about using phones in the library, please visit the document and get involved.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Go Tell It on the Mountain

We need to be shouting from the rooftops to let everyone; parents, students, teachers, administrators, and lawmakers, know how important librarians are for the success and learning of our students. I joined the advocacy committee of SCASL and I have learned so much. Thanks to the examples shared on our listserv and the excellent blog posts by Fran Bullington on her blog, Informania, I have vastly improved my monthly reports to my administators. Ater an email shared by Cathy Nelson on our listserv I have started posting research about libraries and librarians on my school media center page and in our school's Weekly Update. The committe has other plans and I am happy to be a part of spreading the word.

Getting Acquainted with the new Kindles

The first three Kindles arrived. I must say they are quiet sleek and pretty. I immediately ran to the classroom of my co-conspirator on this program, Mrs. Haley. We both did a little dance of joy. They have been added to the catalog and loaded with lots of free books. I'm planning to meet with all of the Content Mastery teachers, review the surveys the students are currently taking and make some decisions about what books to load on the first three. Fifteen students have already completed the reading motivation survey with some interesting results. Forty seven percent of the students felt that they did not read as well as their friends and "boring" was most mentioned when asked what they disliked about reading. All but two of the students indicated that they were interested in using an ereader like a Kindle. I will report more of the results when all of the students have completed the survey. I will also report any effect using Kindles have on their opinions by the end of the school year.

Is Wordle a verb?

Google has become a verb and I think Wordle is heading that way. Have you wordled your blog or website?

When I wordled my blog this is the result. I am very happy that student was most mentioned because I want that to stay my focus.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Your Order Has Shipped

After serious thought, teacher discussion and hours of research and preparation I have decided to order six Kindles for our library. We currently have one Kindle that I check out to teachers. When I took over the library this summer I found it in the box in the back of a filing cabinet. What a wonderful surprise. I took it home and loaded it down with free books. I put it on display at the electronic gadget petting zoo and generated my first customer for the Kindle.
One of our superb resource teachers came to me after checking out the Kindle and said that her students have asked her, "What do I have to do to be able to read on the Kindle?" She said that one particular reluctant/resistant reader borrowed the Kindle during class and sat still for an extended time reading "Call of the Wild." Hearing this prompted me into action. The seed for this idea was planted a while ago when I read this article about Kathy Parker's Kindle program in School Library Journal. My thought further took hold of me after reading Buffy Hamilton's posts about her Kindle purchases and the related post by Joyce Valenza and her plan to use Kindles for research on reading motivation. I attended the webinar hosted by Kathy Parker called "How to Start an eReader Program at Your School". Unfortunately this webinar was not recorded but she gave some excellent, practical tips. I have found Edukindle to be another excellent resource for those considering or currently including Kindles in the library.

With these wonderful ladies paving the way I felt it was a good time to jump in and give it a try. How can I say no to students that "will do anything to read on the Kindle"?

I funded these purchases with a generous donation from our student council Penny Wars fundraiser. Our student council raised over $1,000. I feel like this is an excellent investment. I created a short survey for the reading resource students to take on reading motivation and interests. I plan to compare these survey results and MAP, Lexile and PASS scores from the beginning of the year with the end of the year scores and survey answers. If we see a positive impact then we can justify further Kindle purchases.
I will post updates as the program progresses. Our first three should arrive this Thursday. I am excited to begin this adventure.

Book Fair Bonanza

My very first book fair is underway. I was tentative about the book fair. Usually the conversations I hear about book fairs are not positive ones. Maybe I am missing something, but so far it hasn't been a big deal. I scheduled a day for each of my ELA teachers to bring their students and they come with them and help me supervise. In the mornings, during lunch and afterschool I limit the number of visitors so I can monitor by myself. I have a few spectacular, trustworthy student helpers getting me through. The students have been really excited. This is the first fair we have had in a few years. I'm looking forward to seeing how much we make this week.

Veteran's Day Library Luncheon

We celebrated Veteran's Day on 11/10/10 and invited our visiting veterans to attend a luncheon in the library after our school program. We had around 60 veterans and their families. Our students served them a delicous, southern lunch and we gave away prizes donated by the library and PTSO. It was a pleasure hosting such a great group of Americans.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

txtN bout d library Upd8

I luv bn abL 2 TLK 2 my students by txt & dey luv it t%.

I have written a short post about this in September but I felt that I should elaborate and update on this.
This is my sixth year teaching and even in this short time I have seen cell phone use skyrocket, in particular the use of texting. This is a national phenomenon. The Project Tomorrow reports that 98% of high school students have cell phones and 83% of middle school students. As texting has gotten cheaper the amount of texting has increased. Nielsen research found that amongst teenagers and young adults (18 to 24) the monthly average of text messages went from 600 messages a month in 2008 to over 1,400 in 2010. The chart shows how quickly this method of communication has grown in school age children.

If this is the preferred method of communication for our students, why are we still printing overdue or hold notices? Why are we stuffing our students’ notebooks with flyers and handouts? Why do we only give out a school phone number or email to parents?

I knew that I wanted to be able to text my students a few years ago, but I wasn’t willing to use my own phone and share my number with so many. I looked at a few SMS (short message service) sites, but they all charged a monthly fee or did not give enough free accounts. Some of the options out there are Send GM, Google SMS or Text 4 Free. You can create a free account on and receive text messages if this tool works better for your purposes. This site allows you to create a link that you could post on a school webpage, blog or wiki so that students or parents can send you a text without using your actual phone number. The solution that worked out the best for me was the TextPlus app on iPad. I was moving to my new position as librarian and I wanted to use texting right away.

Now that I had chosen the tool I had to organize how I would implement the program. I created sign-up sheets for each homeroom. When the students came in for orientation I told them about the program and many students signed up right away. The students seemed very excited about the possibility of the library texting them. I suggested to them that if they did not have unlimited text they might now want to sign up. I didn’t want anyone upset that they were charged by my texts even though they wouldn’t be very frequent. I also told them if they do not have their own phone they could use their parents’ number if they preferred. I have already used TextPlus to let my students know that books they requested were on hold for them in the library. Many of them text back big “Thank you”s with exclamation marks and smiley faces. I have overheard students bragging to others that I texted them last night. Students that didn’t sign up right away have added their names to the list after hearing other students talk about it. I hope to increase using text for overdue notices and reminders for my book club.
My experience has been positive thus far and I have received tons of positive feedback from the students. This could be applied to many positions in the school. Classroom teachers could text homework reminders, field trip reminders, test dates, links for homework help, short quizzes, polling questions, and any classroom news you would like to share. Administrators could send mass texts to parents of school news, closings, holidays or special events. The possibilities are endless. I urge any educator considering texting to give it a try. The tools are out there, easy to use and free or inexpensive.

Classroom 2.0 just hosted a webinar on the use of cell phones called "Teaching Generation Text" with Lisa Nielsen and Willyn Webb. I encourage you to watch this wonderful session. You can access this and other archived sessions here.

Tchaz cn TLK 2 thR students by txt
try it

TLK 2 U l8r

Friday, November 12, 2010

Edublog Award Nominations

This will be my first year being able to nominate a few excellent blogs for the Edublog Awards. I have voted in the past, but now that I have my own blog I am able to nominate.
My nominations are:

Best individual blog: The Innovative Educator
Best individual tweeter: @buffyjhamilton
Best group blog: Simple K12 Blogs
Best resource sharing blog: Free Technology for Teachers
Most influential blog post: Changed but Still Critical on Blue Skunk Blog
Most influential tweet / series of tweets / tweet based discussion: #tlchat
Best teacher blog: A Geeky Momma's Blog
Best librarian / library blog: Informania
Best educational tech support blog: iLearn Technology
Best educational wiki: TL Virtual Cafe
Best educational webinar series: K12 Online Conference 2010
Best educational use of a virtual world: FETC Virtual Conference and Expo
Best use of a PLN: Reform Symposium 2010
Lifetime achievement: Doug Johnson of the Blue Skunk Blog

This list was really difficult because there were others I wanted to recognize like Cathy Nelson's Techno Tuesday blog and Gwyneth Jones at The Daring Librarian. I am looking forward to seeing who the other nominees will be and, of course, the winners.

Good luck to everyone.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Meet My Nemesis

Nemesis- one that inflicts retribution or vengeance, a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent (

In every good story there is a villain. Newman, Lex Luthor, Green Goblin, Victoria, Valdemort, Sue Sylvester. The villain in this story is my laminator.

My laminator and I have a love-hate relationship. This laminator is possibly as old as me. I can not find any distinguishing markings to determine age. Maybe it was delivered by pony express. Yet, it refuses to die and justify the cost of purchasing another. For some teachers the only reason they come into the library is to ask for laminating service. I allow anyone to use it, but usually my helpers enjoy doing it so I let them. I take this as a positive public image generator. It promotes the library as a place where we help the teachers. When teachers come in for that I take that opportunity to build relationships and show some of the other things we offer. So, in that way I love the laminator.


Last year I received a 30 second lesson on using, maintaining and changing the roll for the laminator. After my first roll change in August it refused to come back on. I tried every outlet, every knob, button, and lever I could find. Finally I gave up and requested a work order. Unfortunately the beginning of the year is when teachers have lots of laminating requests. So with a few of my wonderful student volunteers we went across the street to use the machine at the high school in exchange for laminating film and a lesson on changing the roll (the recently laid off clerk used to change it). We spent several hours there and made several trips until the maintenance man arrived to repair mine. Much to my embarassment the tray needed to be jiggled to reset the safety switch. Voila. Back in working order. I felt like a moron. I am sure this is only the first of many more humbling experiences. So you see why I also hate this machine.

This machine is like Sue Sylvester on Glee. Just when I think I am really rocking as a librarian it is there to bring me back down to earth.

What/who is your nemesis?

Perceptions of the Library

Yesterday a teacher came into the library to ask a question. One of my classes had just left and I was checking email before the next class arrived. Before she left she made the comment, "I wish I could stay in here where it is quiet."

Maybe she didn't mean anything by it, but it made me think about the perceptions teachers and other staff members have of the library and the work we do. It is possible that I am overly defensive because I know what some teachers think about our work. She happened to catch me at a quiet moment, but she had not seen all of the other work I had done that day. I sat down and figured out what that day consisted of and this is what I discovered.

That day I had entered 137 new books into Destiny, read/answered 57 emails, printed book club invitations for our next meeting, added two sources to our faculty Diigo group, texted 40 students about the book club meeting, had over 120 student visitors, taught 4 mini lessons on citation and helped 4 science classes research organs, laminated items for three teachers, and served over 50 cups of hot chocolate and cappuccino from our library cafe. Then I left straight from school, picked up my two year old son and went to Sams to buy more hot chocolate, breakfast pastries for book fair teacher sneak peek breakfast, read 17 blog posts on my reader, wrote two blog posts on my blog, checked twitter, and bought three gifts for Veteran’s Day door prizes. Of course this list doesn't include normal activities like eating and a quick run to the restroom. I accomplished these things without a library aide, but with the assistance of my student helpers. My library is definitely not "where it is quiet."

It upsets me that many teachers still see the library as quieter, slower and, in some way, less than and easier than the classroom. I taught five years before moving to the position of librarian and I know the classroom teachers work hard, but so do we.

I try everyday to prove my value to my students, teachers, parents, and administrators. How do you fight these misconceptions?

Buyer, Elizabeth. mirror.jpg. May 2005. Pics4Learning. 4 Nov 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Truly Honorable Mention

One of my library role models, Fran Bullington, recognized me on her blog, Informania. I am honored to be on her list of new "media mavens" in South Carolina.

In her post Fran asks her readers to think of their "inspirational finds".

Some of my other SC librarian gurus are Cathy Nelson, Heather Loy, Kelly Knight, Valerie Byrd-Fort and my two district colleagues Monique German and Kristen Hearne. Another name you should remember is Sharon Matney. Sharon was my classmate in the MLIS program at USC. She is finishing up soon and she is phenomenal. You can find her on Twitter @sharonmatney and on Facebook, where she posts some of her work.

Wrestlemania Reading Challenge Update

Our first month of the Wrestlemania Reading Challenge has come to an end and now I have to gather the total books read from each ELA teacher and post the results on the board. For every 100 books a colored piece of the championship belt will be added to the board. When all ten pieces are on the belt that grade has accomplished the goal of 1,000 books and the principals will dress as wrestlers and come to their lunch period. I picked out the wrestling costumes today. I decided on Sgt. Slaughter for our head principal, the Sheik for one assistant principal and the Hulk for the other assistant principal. I will post pictures after their first appearance.