Monday, December 17, 2012

Noodletools ShowMe boxes

Noodletools has rolled out another great addition to the site.  They now have something they are calling ShowMe Information Literacy Modules.  These link directly to the ShowMe boxes within Noodletools and help to explain source types to kids.  For example, one link showis exactly what a journal article looks like and where to find the citation information. 

I've already started adding this box to my Noodletools LibGuides.  For more information, check out this page from

Here's an example of what the advanced version looks like:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Series review

I'm so excited--I write reviews for School Library Journal.  Well, last month I had a whole column of reviews published in a supplement to SLJ, called Series Made Simple.  I read about ten sets of books, assigned grade levels and wrote reviews over each.  It was fun and also interesting to see the different approaches from each publisher to books supposedly on the same topics.  I even got a by-line!

Here's a link to my column if you'd like to see it...that sounds so cool to say--my column!  

Occupational Success: Careers

Book review

Cinders & Sapphires (At Somerton, #1)Cinders & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book reminded me of a PBS "Upstairs, Downstairs" kind of story, with the upper class and their household of servants. I worry that the target audience--young adults--might not have the historical background needed to understand some of the nuances of the story. And as with many YA books these days, the book's ending screams, "Sequel coming!!!"

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Long time no blog......

Well I've been a slacker of late with my blog.  Numerous personal reasons have prevented me from writing---at the top of the list was a recent illness, which I'm still recovering from.  I've had to let some things go, including my writing time.  I will try to do better in the future!  I've at least been able to publish some of my current reviews for SLJ--last month I had two reviews published at once!  They were side by side on the page--I must admit, I still get goose bumps when I see my name in print in a magazine.  You'd think after all this time, I'd be used to it, but it never gets old.....

Book review

(cover art courtesy of
My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century.

Grades 7-10

A trip to Italy suits Cat Crawford just fine for her birthday, but she is not happy about the huge sweet sixteen party her soon-to-be-stepmother wants to throw. A solitary afternoon of sight-seeing ends at a gypsy tent, where the fortune teller says, “A great adventure is in store for you. Keep your mind open to the lessons ahead.” When she leaves the tent, Cat finds she has traveled back in time to Renaissance Italy as Patience DiAngeli, a distant cousin of her family. Her one reminder of the present time is her backpack of makeup and gadgets. To avoid suspicion, she must be mindful of everything she says and does and keep the backpack out of sight. She finally shares the time travel secret with her younger cousin, Alessandra, who willingly accepts her story and who then tries to help Cat fit in as a proper young lady of Renaissance Italy. Lorenzo, a dashing young man and fellow artist, catches her eye, but as is customary for the time period, Cat finds herself betrothed to a much older, “creepy” guy. All turns out well in the end—Cat finds her way back to modern day Italy and along the way, learns to open her heart to others, including her future stepmother. Girls will like the romance of the story and all the gorgeous young men—past and present—Cat encounters. The details of the Renaissance costumes and art work, which add to the story’s historical setting, clash with Cat’s modern day slang terms, providing a good amount of humor. Cute, light and romantic, the story will appeal to those who want to leave the real world behind for a while.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Here's my Goodreads review of a new YA book by Erin Jade Lange. ButterButter by Erin Jade Lange
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The author combines the current hot button topics of chilhood obesity, teen suicide and cyberbullying into a compelling story. It is told with a first person narrator which gives an interesting perspective.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Power of Habit

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and BusinessThe Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating reading-- from a personal stand point as well as professional. This book explains in my mind anyway why I've had trouble trying to make some changes at work. I hadn't found a "keystone" habit to change. The book also gives one pause and makes you think about how much information companies have about our buying habits. Very interesting book.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Educational technology

I found a great infographic on the changes in Educational Technology over the past few years. The infographic is pretty big and so I'm including the link for it here:

Here's a small version so you can see what I mean:

Debbie Downer today

Wow, school is off and running. I've found myself going in circles trying to figure out what fire to put out first. So I haven't had time to do much writing and posting here. I'm also working on a column of reviews for SLJ and that's taking my free time. I'll post it when the column is published--I think it's in November. It's been a rocky start to the school year again or maybe that's just the norm these days. Trying to help with technology only to be told that's not our job. Trying to help teachers find resources only to be told, "I don't want your help." Trying to be a team player only to find the rules are changing daily. I feel sad that I have many days when things happen that I can't control yet I must manage. I guess this is all part of the process of change, which we all know is happening exponentially in the library world. But some days I don't think I can keep up.Sorry to be such a "Debby Downer" today. I will get back to my usual sharing of tips and tricks to help teachers and librarians as soon as I can!

What Happens Next

It's not every day you get a thumbs up from the author of a book you've reviewed! What Happens NextWhat Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent story of a teenager who is the victim of a date rape. Sid Murphy doesn't remember the incident but knows something happened. She starts trying to literally run away from the pain--running through her town at night. Coupled with the onset of bulimia, she starts to lose so much weight her mother and friends worry about her. An incident sparks her memory and with the help of her mother and a caring boyfriend, she is able to pull herself away from the eating issues and get on with her life.

The story is very good--the rape is mentioned but not in a graphic way so I think even younger readers (middle school) could read this one. And the eating disorder issues are discussed but again in a way that even younger readers can handle the story. Very well done.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Fred Factor

The Fred Factor: How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinaryThe Fred Factor: How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary by Mark Sanborn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The book was okay--a gentle reminder to live mindfully every day and go above and beyond because it's the right way to live. All well and good but I kept waiting for the reasoning behind the theory. Basically the reasoning is what we've all been taught--The Golden Rule.

It was a light and easy read, a nice, gentle reminder that the way we behave each day determines our character. But I didn't really find an "ah ha" moment from it.

View all my reviews

Simple tips to use Twitter

Great slideshare/ infographic on using Twitter.  We have a lot of new Twitter users in our district and I think they might like this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Educational technology buzz words

Here's a great infographic showing some of the most current trends in educational technology and their definitions.  I found this via Twitter at the blog entitled Mr G Online.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Skinny--review for SLJ

Here's my latest review for SLJ--pretty good novel.  I have to admit I'm a bit jealous--it's a semi-autobiographical novel set in Texas and published by Scholastic.  ALL the things I've wanted to do!!Guess I should get my self in gear and get busy.....

Grades 7-10
Donna Cooner

In this debut novel, author Donna Cooner fictionalizes her own experiences with extreme weight loss surgery. Ever Davies wants the part of Cinderella in her high school musical. She thinks she would be perfect for the part—she can sing, she knows what it’s like to have a stepmother and stepsisters at home, and she knows what it’s like to be invisible to others; most people tend to ignore her since she weighs over 300 pounds. Even Jackson, a childhood friend and now a school hunk, looks right through her these days. Food has been comforting to her since her mother died; however, now her weight is becoming a serious health issue. And Skinny, the constant little voice in her head, doesn’t help, keeping up a running commentary about Ever’s weight and total incompetence at doing just about everything. Despite her concerns about the risks of surgery, Ever finally decides to undergo gastric bypass. Her geeky friend Rat stands by her throughout the entire process, helping her chart her progress with pounds lost and pertinent songs. As she loses the weight, Ever learns about the people around her—her stepsister Briella, who uses shopping to comfort herself when her real dad ignores her, her new friend Whitney, and even Rat, who might actually be Prince Charming in disguise. She forces herself to enroll in drama class in order to qualify for the musical and finds she honestly enjoys it. And as she becomes more confident, she realizes Skinny’s voice isn’t as loud or as strident as it once was. Ever even sees other people’s perceptions of her behavior are just as wrong as the perceptions she had of them. The surgery is discussed in great detail, enough so the reader can see this isn’t a quick and easy solution and see Ever’s problems don’t magically go away with the weight loss. A good first novel, the story will appeal to middle or high school girls, who often struggle with doubts and fears, whether it’s weight, loneliness or lack of popularity.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ALA Infographic

This infographic from ALA is about public libraries, but it's applicable to school libraries as well. Interesting information. Weathering the Storm

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I just submitted this review to SLJ--Karen Hesse's latest book entitled Safekeeping.  When this book is published in September, grab it!  It's lovely!

Safekeeping---Grades  7  +

  In Karen Hesse’s latest novel, Safekeeping , a young woman quickly grows up during a time of turmoil and chaos, giving a nod to the current dystopian society trend so popular in YA literature but going beyond to bring some deeper themes to the story.  This masterfully written story, combined with lovely black and white photography,  will sure garner the author more literary acclaim

Radley Parker-Hughes has been volunteering in Haiti to help in an orphanage after the recent earthquake, but she returns home to a country in the grip of an even more chaotic situation. The American Political Party has assumed power in the U.S.; the president has been assassinated and martial law prevails.   Soliders  with guns at the airport, travel paper requirements—is this really the New Hampshire she left just a few months ago?  And where are her parents? They are usually so prompt  picking  up Radley at the airport, but today they are nowhere to be found.  Radley decides to get home any way she can, even though she will have to cross states lines, strictly forbidden by the new government.  When she does finally make it home, her parents are still not around, but the police are.  They come to the house several times, looking for Radley until she decides the best course of action is to leave, maybe crossing the border to Canada since she thinks surely that’s where her parents went. 

She takes off on foot for the journey, hiding at night in the woods.  One day she encounters an obviously ill young girl, who is also trying to make it to Canada on foot.  The two form an uneasy alliance and along with Celia’s dog, Jerry Lee, they avoid danger and slip across the border.  An abandoned shack becomes home and through the kindness of strangers, the girls survive and become close.  But Radley’s search for her parents continues.

Once the chaos in the US has subsided, Radley makes her way back home, only to find things never will be the same again.  A journey back to Canada can’t soothe her pain, but a trip back to Haiti does. And so she comes back full circle to where the story began.

The prose is written exquisitely, almost poetically, and interspersed with the story are numerous black and white photographs taken by the author, illustrating the story.   The simple beauty of the story combined with the photographs  actually intensify the story lines of confusion and disorder under the new government, giving the reader a chilling feeling of reality. The reader sees, through the use of flashback memories interspersed in the storyline, how Radley’s character grows from a confused, scared teen to a confident young woman, able to handle her own life.   Appealing to all types of readers, this book should fly off the shelves.

More about Noodletools upgrades

Another one of the Noodletools upgrades I am excited about is the different levels available.  Right now they have starter and advanced.  But in the new version, the starter will actually be very simple--desgined for elementary students.  Only a few source types and a very clean design will help start our youngest students on the right path and by the time they get to me at the high school, citations should be a lot eaiser!

I have jokingly (well sort of anyway) told our elementary librarians if our students would come to us and not know about any other citation generator, it would make our lives so much simpler!  But seriously, if our students knew the basics of Noodletools from a young age, we could help them do so much more!

The site will also add an intermediate version for middle school students.  And the advanced level will have a mulitude of source types to choose from!  New source types, including microblogs (i.e. Twitter) and YouTube will now be available.  In addition a long list of government document source types will be available, along with very detailed step by step directions to help students make their way through the complicated citations.

As in the past users can switch between levels but now they can also switch between citation types--MLA, APA and Chicago Turbin.  This will be a handy feature for some of my advanced students who have to complete research and change formatting for different subjects.

I actually have some students working on research over the summer and I asked about their projects.  I was afraid the changes might throw them a curve in their research.  But  any ongoing projects will not make the switch to the new format--only any ones started after the upgrade takes effect.  I don't know---I might tell my kids to transfer their information over to the new format anyway just for the ease of use with the improvements.

Can't wait to see the new site!  June 25 is the big day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Noodletools--upgrades and changes to come

I've written before about this site--it's one of my favorite tools to use when teaching kids research skills.  The site is going to launch a major upgrade this summer, and I was privileged to get a sneak peek at it earlier this week.  I can't wait for the changes! I learned so much about the new version of the site that I want to share--I don't want to overwhelm anyone with all the changes at once so I'll talk about a few of the new features over the next several postings.

One of the reasons I choose Noodletools over other citation generators is the teaching ability built in to the site.  The site wants to help teachers with research instruction, and so it is more than just a fill in the blank website.  Kids need to know what type of source they are working with and what relevant information is needed.  But lots of help is available on screen right at the point of need and after the upgrade, students will have even more hints available right at their fingertips.

The citation page will have a model citation for the source type available for students to check as they fill in their own information.  The relevant pieces of the sample will be highlighted to help them find the information from their own source.  And each line will have an error check--a mistake in capitalization, for example, will be pointed out immediately so students can correct it before finishing the citation.

Small popup menus will also help to provide information at the point of need.  Hopefully if students will just read the page, they can get questions answered before calling out for help from the teacher!

Can't wait to see the new site--the upgrade is scheduled to be live on June 25. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Digital Citizenship

I'm attending a meeting tomorrow on developing a curriculum for the district to teach digital citizenship.  I've made a page of some resources for us to look at while we are developing ideas.  I would love to hear any other suggestions out there.

What are other districts doing these days to teach responsible digital learning?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury August 22. 1920--June 6, 2012

"You weren't there, you didn't see," he said. "There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't stay for nothing."
 from Farenheit 451

With great sadness today, I read of the passing of Ray Bradbury, one of the great literary writers of our age.  I remember the first time I read Farenheit 451--I was appalled at the idea of someone burning books.  When I reread the book--as an older reader--I realized the significance of the story to our modern age.  To this day, it is still one of my favorite books.

Lots of articles are being written today about this great man so I will just say Godspeed and you will remain in our thoughts--as long as there are books to read and ideas to discuss.  Thank you for sharing your writing with us all--the world is a much better place because of it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A year of blogging

As this school year winds down to a close, I wanted to take a long hard look at my blog.  I have been doing this steadily for a year now.  I started writing on July 18 of last year with a goal to post something interesting every day  for teachers and librarians.  After looking at my statistics for the past year, I have some personal reflections. 

I have written 204 posts and pretty much kept to my goal of posting every school day. I must admit following my work schedule made it easier to keep up.  And learning to schedule posts in advance has been a godsend.  My post receiving the most hits was on the topic of Libguides--actually my top three most popular posts all concerned LibGuides!  I think this happened because I tweeted about the posts and the good people at LibGuides retweeted it to all their followers.  My top page has been viewed 82 times.  And my "All About Me" page was viewed 37 times.  I had 482 views last month, which is probably the highest number of views in a month.

So that's the good news.  Now for the not so good news.  Blogging every day is hard!  I sometimes get very discouraged when I see post after post with no hits or comments.  I have to keep telling myself it's not the number of hits, but the quality of writing that counts.  And I'm doing this basically for me and if someone reads my writing, even better.  But there were still some days I get very discouraged and wonder why I bother.

There's good news, bad news.....then the ugly truths....Am I a good blogger?  I don't know.  I know I don't have a lot of readers so in some people's minds, I would not be considered very good.  I know trying to write something daily makes me stay very alert to trends in the library and education world.  I try very hard not to get personal since this is a professional blog, but I've found a few of my personal "rants" received larger number of hits.  So maybe I should be more personal in my writings.  I think forcing myself to write this much has helped to get my writing "fingers" back -- it's much easier to let the words flow now than it was when I started.  However the time I spend on my blog takes away from the novel I'm dreaming of writing.  I mean, there are only so many hours in a day!

So what have I learned from this?  I'm going to keep blogging, although over the summer, I may slow down a bit-I'm going to aim for a couple of days a week rather than every day.  I'll pick back up when school starts for sure, but I'm going to slow down now.  I've joined an online teacher's writing group so some of my time will go there.  I'm going to set a writing schedule and do my best to get my novel at least finished--so I can start on rewrites on it anyway.

I still have concerns that my blog topic is confusing--is it for teachers? for librarians?  I don't see why it can't be for both, but maybe that's part of the problem of lack of readers.  I might need to fine tune my focus a bit.  So that's something to think about this summer as well.

I am going to post this blog link on my end of year report as a part of my professional development over the year.  As I said, I've found myself really watching the trends and watching for interesting information I could share here, so I consider this a portfolio of my professional development over the past year.

So there you have it...the good, the bad and the ugly of blogging.  If you're still reading this far into the page, thank you.  Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Saving a library

This is about a public library rather than a school, but it is still an absolutely brilliant plan!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Watching young people discover their life

To continue on with my musings from yesterday--

One of the greatest joys of my job is watching young people figure out what they want to do with their life.  And I don't know how many times when a young adult tells me the path he or she wants to follow, I want to laugh--not out of meaness but because I'm thinking, "It's about time you figured out what everyone else all ready knows!"

I saw this in my step daughter when she told us she was going to apply to Southwest Airlines to be a flight attendant.  She loves to travel, constantly on the move--this is the perfect job for her.  I saw this in my own daughter when she tentatively told me she was getting a teacher certification.  Matter of fact, I did tell her, "It's about time you figured it out!"  She's an awesome math teacher, and I knew it when she was young.  But it took a while for it to sink in.

Now another young man, former student of mine, is making some changes in his career plan.  He told me about it like he thought I might be surprised.  But I remember the books he read in 6th grade--I couldn't get enough for him!  So no, I'm not surprised. 

I love the recognition when a young adult realizes what career path to take.  Sometimes it happens in school.  Sometimes later on.  It bothers me that we as educators push students to choose a college path and a career path before they've had time to explore and see what's out there. 

If we can give our students time and opportunity to explore, who knows what they can dream up?  Who knows what career choices they will make? 

I do know when a young adult reaches the "aha!" moment in a career choice, it's magic.  And just like making a hole in one in golf--it's the reason I get up and come to work every day--just in case today is the day it happens again.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Am I a "Stranger in a Strange Land"?

So the best part of the Memorial Day weekend was getting a chance to rest and recharge the ol' batteries for this last push through school.  Our district has time off during the year and therefore, we go about a week longer than most of the area districts.  It's such a teaser--summertime weekend of activities and then--back to school!  But as I said, the rest and recharge helps get through the final days.

And because I was rested, I had some random thoughts I thought I would share.  One idea I have been musing over is what exactly is my job?  I am a little unique in the library world.  For twenty years I was a language arts teacher and then for the last twelve years, I've been a librarian.  But lots of days I still feel like an English teacher.  Matter of fact, I sometimes laughingly tell people I'm an English teacher whose classroom happens to be in the library.

But in all seriousness, sometimes I wonder--do I have feet in both worlds?  I see the dichotomy in this blog and I've been asked the question, "Is this blog for teachers or librarians?"  Can't it be for both?  Because I feel like both--especially on those days when I'm working with my IB students on their research paper or answering a million questions about citation formats or pulling up research for kids who say "the databases have nothing in them for my topic"! 

I became a librarian because I thought I could affect more students than I could as classroom teacher.  But it's not as much of an impact.  Kids don't see me as a teacher or as someone who can help them.  I'm the librarian--the old dragon lady.  So would I have been better off staying in a classroom where I can directly see the influence I had on students?  Or do I keep plugging away in here, hoping my scattershots of help dribble out to the masses?  Or hoping that by helping teachers I can, indirectly, help more students?

One of the reason I made the transition from the classroom is because I was beginning to feel too old to deal with all the mulitude of issues teachers are responsible for.  But now, when I have over 200 kids coming through the library on a daily basis and kids doing projects of every shape and size, I have to wonder if the life of a teacher wouldn't be easier.

I'm close to ending my career in education at this point.  I think I only have about one more good year left in me so to even consider a classroom again is silly.  And I do love my classroom in the library. But I have paused to think, on more than one occasion here lately, maybe I am a stranger in a strange land, someone who doesn't quite fit either category.  But then again, maybe I'm just the future of teacher-librarians, with the emphasis on the teacher part.

Either way, I do love my job---but right now, I'm very glad it's almost the end of another year!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Technology use in College

Okay this is interesting--a look at technology use by college studentsThe times they are a-changin'......

And seriously, students can't go 10 minutes without checking their smartphone???

Friday, May 25, 2012

TED talks

Okay I don't know about you, but it's getting way too close to the end of the school year for me. We have one more week left and to give me some moral support and something to hang on to, I found this great TED video featuring Sir Ken Robinson. He's got some of the best ideas in education and he's got a great delivery too! Hope this one helps you end the school year too.

 "And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly."


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Libraries in the 21st century

I know this is a topic everyone is writing/ talking/ reading about these days.  What's happening to libraries?  How are they changing?  Are they even relevent these days?  I think those of us in the library world know our roles but does the rest of the world?

The reason for these thoughts happened yesterday.  Once again, I get the feeling the general public thinks of us as the little old ladies with the bun and glasses shushing our way through the day.  People don't see us helping students, accessing technology--showing students how to access technology.  I was at a meeting to design a new high school.  The consultant in charge kept talking about a "distributed media center" concept.  I kept raising the question of supervision--monitoring the different areas.  Considering I'm the only librarian, a distributed space is impossible for me to monitor. 

The consultant kept telling me these spaces were for students to collaborate and work.  Again I asked about supervision.  She finally said that this was a 21st century concept and we needed to understand this is what our students needed! ARGH!!!  Like I don't all ready know that!  What does she think I do all day? 

I really felt like she was reaching over to pat my hand and telling me to get with the times.......and I was so insulted because I think, of all people, librarians understand 21st century learners, but the general public doesn't understand librarians!  I guess we need to keep getting our message out there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Digital citizenship

This summer our district is forming a committee to explore digital citizenship.  I'm on the lookout for resources or information we can use to help us decide on some district guidelines.  I found this one website of resources--evidently this is becoming a hot topic all over! 

I think the committee is comprised of librarians, tech people and admin people.  I'm curious to see how this will all work out.

Any suggestions of other resources would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book quotes

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.

Here's a great site I found via Twitter--50 Inspiring Quotes about books and reading.  Enjoy! 

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seniors 2012

As usual, Joyce Valenza says it better than I can....this is a letter to the senior of 2012.  I hope some of my babies read this too and know I mean every word.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Making infographics

Thanks to freetech4teachers--I found this great site to make infographics.  I love how infographics can be great visual displays of information, but I was never sure how to make one.  Well, helps you do just that.  The site has some premade templates you can use or start from scratch to make your own.

What a great way to end the school year--let your students choose a topic of interest to them, research (using library databases!) and put together an infographic to display their results.  High interest, engaging and using researching skills--a much better use of time than a video!

The only issue I see is the site doesn't support IE, which is our school's default browser.  But that's easily fixed by choosing another site like Firefox.

Wonder if I can convince some teachers to give this a try?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Digital copyright slider

One of my fellow librarians sent this along.  It's a visual representation to help you decide if an item is in public domain  and it's from the ALA Office of Information Technology Policy. Very nice and very user friendly!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Heroic Teachers

As the year starts winding down...and kids are all wound up...I think we all need a reminder about what we do every day.  As the slogan says, "It's not just a's an adventure!"  This infographic is small but if you go to the website, you'll be able to see it more clearly.

From Educational Technology and Mobile Learning:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

All these Lives--Book Review

My most recent book review submitted to SLJ today!

All these lives
 Grades 7-10

 As a tiny infant she and her mother survived a horrible car crash. Hearing this story and others just like it have convinced Dani she has nine lives. And right now those nine lives may come in handy because her twin sister Jenna has been diagnosed with leukemia. Jenna needs a bone marrow transplant to survive, but Dani isn’t a match and can’t help. All she can do is sit back and watch her sister get weaker every day. Her feelings of helplessness come out at school, from a belligerent attitude to mouthing off to everyone, causing her to become an outcast among her friends. From Mom’s constant hovering to Dad’s secretive smoking, the entire family copes as best they can.

But after hearing a story about a cat’s nine lives floating out in the atmosphere to help other cats, Dani gets an idea how she can help. She’ll give her nine lives to Jenna. And so she embarks on a series of risky endeavors, each one designed to take one of her lives. And each time Dani watches carefully to see if Jenna improves at all. From almost drowning to crashing a motorcycle to swallowing pills, Dani tries to count down her lives. But what she doesn’t see is how her destructive behavior is causing her parents even more heartache.

At one point in the dead of winter, the family goes on a family camping trip and for a few brief days, things seem normal again. The parents even leave the girls alone for an evening, but the night ends disastrously. Jenna becomes seriously ill and though Dani handles everything from calling paramedics to getting Jenna to the hospital, she feels responsible. And she decides it’s time to give all remaining lives to Jenna by doing something seriously dangerous.

All ends well, and Dani learns the best way to help her sister is not to give up her own life through destructive behaviors but to be there for Jenna. Narrated in Dani’s somewhat sarcastic voice, the story shows how living with a terminally ill person affects every family member. Details about Jenna’s illness are revealed through the narrative as needed. Interesting without being syrupy, the story will show kids, who may be going through similar tough family situations, destructive behaviors are not always the best solution.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Designing books

Here is a great TED video on the importance of book design--something as a reader I seldom consider.  But obviously that's the point! 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Libraries and Apple stores!

I ran across this article via Twitter--10 things libraries can learn from the Apple Store.  Basically it says libraries should be run like the store--following the principles Apple has in place for their employees to follow.  Having just spent a good deal of time and money at our local Apple store, I must say the article contains some interesting ideas. 

Embrace diversity, don't try to sell stuff, enrich people's lives, spend as much time as necessary and above all, SMILE!  All good business practices for a commerical business and more importantly, a library.

I especially enjoyed this article because it made me really stop and think about how we are approaching our "business" of the library, even at this time of the year.  Maybe it struck me even more because it's near the end of the year and I need to be reminded of some of the reasons why I love my job.

Take time to read this article.  It will make you think.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Technology for Teachers

I love Richard Byrne's Free Tech 4 Teachers blog. He has so many amazing ideas and uses for free web tools.  I don't always have time to read his blog, but I follow him on Twitter just to keep up. 

He touches on everything--from Google tools to sites teacher can use to create videos to cool timeline sites.  I can't even touch on the whole of his blog.  I must admit, I've even used it to help me with this blog--I've learned a thing or two (or three or four) from it.

Check out the site and see if you agree with me.  I bet you come away from it with at least one new idea you can use right away.  And I bet you'll be back to see what else Richard shares with us!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Extended Essay

It's time for me to start working with our junior IB students getting ready to begin their IB Extended Essays.  I have talked about this before--it has become one of my favorite parts of my job.  The Extended Essay is a 4000 word research paper IB students must complete as a part of their IB diploma.  The work is mostly done independently and begins in their junior year and is completed their senior year.  This paper is probably the biggest piece of academic research these kids have ever completed!  And when they complete it, they feel such a sense of accomplishment and also relief to have it behind them.

I am the school's EE coordinator but since I don't see all the students together in a class like a teacher does, I use some online tools to help direct the students.  My favorite one of all is, of course, Libguides.  I put together a Libguide specifically for our EE with links to the IB handbook, our databases, our subscription for Noodletools, some formatting guidelines, and even some sample papers.  I even shortened the URL with the help of so it's easier to remember--

Last year was my first year as coordinator, and I learned so much.  This year I'm tweaking the process even more, but I have to say I am very proud of this Libguide.  And just to show off a little--I've had several schools in other states ask to copy it as the start for their EE guides. That's the best feeling of all!  Not only can I help my own students, but I'm giving other librarians a place to start instruction as well.

If you get the chance to check out my EE Libguide, let me know what you think.  I've looked at it so long, I'm not sure I can find the problems in it.  So I'd love some fresh eyes to look it over!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Adult Literacy

So what happens to those kids who unfortunately leave our educational system and still can't read? I know they exist--I see them on a regular basis. The ones who laugh about never reading a book or the ones who tell me they hate the library--what sort of future do these kids have? Some turn into adults that can't read. We as educators tend to focus on teaching children to read but honestly don't always think of the difficulties adult have when they can't read. My dear friend Megan is working with the Literacy Council in Birmingham, Alabama as a volunteer these days. She was recently featured on a PBS program entitled Spotlight on Education where she talks about her work with these adult learners.

She brings up some interesting points. Adults who can't read can't find streets when they are lost--they can't read the street signs. Sometimes these adults just want to be able to read stories to their grandchildren--simple things the rest of us take for granted.

What really struck me about this--I know as teachers we struggle with those students who don't/won't/can't read in our classes. But when we give up on these kids, they become the kind of adults Megan is now helping. When I listen to Megan talking about the struggles those adults are having, I feel guilty for all the times I threw up my hands with a kid. Wish I could have a do over with so many of them!

 Here's the show--Megan comes on about 30 minutes into it.

Watch April, 2012 on PBS. See more from Spotlight on Education.

Friday, May 4, 2012

STAAR Test results are in!

Found this video via Twitter. I'm not brave enough to share it with my principal but it's too funny to keep to myself! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Vintage photos

Okay so this is really fascinating--some vintage photographs from the Library of Congress showing libraries and librarians from the early 1900's (I started to say the turn of the century....but that doesn't fit any more!) What I love about the pictures is not the fact the librarians are hand stamping books, etc. but the fact they are helping kids. I'm glad that part of our job hasn't changed!

Here's the link to the rest of the pictures. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

TED Ed videos

I'm sure by now you've seen the new TED Ed website to help with flipped classrooms. The site provides some premade videos but allows the teacher to customize the lesson. Supposed to help a teacher with flipping a classroom.

I think it's a great idea but as I've said before, I see the potential for misuse of this comcept as well. A good teacher would take this idea and fly with it. A poor teacher would use this as a substitute for teaching--it's basically watch a video and answer questions at home. It's what you do as a follow up in the classroom that counts. And that's honestly my concern. Without followup, then all you have is an assignment to watch a video at home.

This blogger says it better than I can--Teach Paperless. And here's the video from the TED Ed site explaining how the site works. Great concept--great idea--I just hope teachers use it properly.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Changes to Noodletools

I've talked before about how much I love Noodletools. Of all the citation generators out there, this site is the best by far because it teaches kids about citation elements instead of just doing it for them. Well, I got a video the other day showing some of the changes Noodletools is going implement this summer. They're making a good site even better! Check this out:

Friday, April 27, 2012

This too shall pass

Here is an amazing video.  A group called OK Go wanted to produce a video that would actually be distributed as a viral video for their song entitled "This Too Shall Pass."  They wanted a Rube Goldberg type of approach.  This video talks about the way the music video was put together--they had to restart it 85 times just to get a final video!  But the final one is really cool.  Check it out and see what you think.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Partnership for 21st century skills

I was a school design meeting earlier in the month and one of the websites mentioned was the Partnership for 21st century skills.  According to the website:

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a national  organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student. As the United States continues to compete in a global  economy that demands innovation, P21 and its members provide tools and resources to help the U.S. education system keep up by fusing the 3Rs and 4Cs (Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and innovation). While leading districts and schools are already doing this, P21 advocates for local, state and federal policies that support this approach for every school.

Now is this an educational organization?  or is it an outside partnership? Because I get tired of outsiders telling those of us in education how things should be run.  But until I know for sure, I'm going to withhold judgement.

I do like this graphic from the site:

That's a nice way to look at  21st century skills students need.  I especially like the fact that information, media and technology skills are given such a high priority!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Common Core standards

I keep hearing a lot about this Common Core standards being adopted across the country.  Turns out that Texas is one of only 4 states that is not partcipating.  Wonder why?  Is it because we already have such a standards driven curriculum in place for our state?  Are our standards higher than the ones in the Common Core?  Or is it because our students are already tested to death anyway, so why add to it?  I don't know.

Seems to me a nation wide standard is a good idea to a point.  There are so many variations in funding, materials, building set ups, teaching methods,etc. across the country that I'm not sure how "common" the standards can be.  Now a disclaimer-- I have not studied these standards yet so I don't know too much about them.  And again, since Texas isn't participating, I hadn't really paid attention.  Guess I should! Time to go and do some research on this topic.

So if anyone out there reading this is from another state who is participating in the Common Core, can you give me some information?  Let me know what you think about this standard curriculum implementation.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

WBNA followup

Well, I wanted to give you a quick followup to our WBNA 2012 project.  The look on most of the kids' faces was priceless!  They didn't really understand that I was giving away books to them with no strings attached! It was fun for me too.  Hopefully, we'll get to participate in this event again next year!

World Book Night America

So as I am writing this, today is World Book Night in England and the US.  Supposedly one million free books will be handed out across both countries today.  The idea is to find nonreaders and get them interested in a book, especially one that is free.

I have copies of Friday Night Lights to hand out--particularly to our athletes.  Since I got a boys' book, my assistant got a copy of Jody Piccolt's book My Sister's Keeper as a girls' book. I don't quite know what to expect as a reaction.  Will the kids like the books?  Will they ignore us?  Will they appreciate them?  I'm just not sure what to expect. 

If you are interested in finding out more about World Book Night US, here's the link to their website.  They have a nice blog and I'm sure tomorrow there will lots of stories about the books.  I also follow them on Twitter and have seen some really unique ideas for distribution.  Makes my idea of giving to our students seem rather tame!

Since this time of year is so busy I tend to write these posts ahead of time so I don't miss out.  But if anything fun or exciting happens during our book distribution, I'll be sure to let you know!

Monday, April 23, 2012

TLA presentation 2011

With TLA in Houston this year and with budget issues, I wasn't able to go. So I was reminiscing and remembered our presentatio from last year's TLA conference held here in Austin. I must admit I was pretty proud of it. I did not do it alone--my friend Zandra was right there with me. We were both so nervous! But we were talking about Libguides, one of our favorite tools so that made it easier. Once we got started, we just talked and talked. I wanted to post our Slide Rocket presentation here so I can hang on to a copy of it and also share with anyone out there in Cyberland who still does not know about Libguides.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Build a Tower, build a team

Interesting video on a group activity that requires spaghetti, string, tape and marshmellows.  Kindergarten students can do this--give it a try!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Daniel Pink and motivation

Daniel Pink is one of my favorite authors. I think I've written about my admiration for his work before. This is a short video of his where he examines the facts about motivation--what works and what doesn't. You might be surprised. PS on a personal note and not having anything to do with this video...I just want to say Happy Birthday to my hubby....Love you sweetheart!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pinterest for educators

Pinterest is becoming one of the most popular websites around.  I read it was the third most popular social media site behind Facebook and Twitter.  I've seen articles about librarians using Pinterest, but this blog was the first time I've seen suggestions for teachers using Pinterest.

For example, how about putting all some of your readings for professional development on a pin board?  What a brainstorming spot?  These are just a few of the good ideas in the article.

My favorite one was the idea of using it to teach digital citizenship.  This is a great idea because I think Pinterest is a lawsuit waiting to happen.  Now I must admit, I sometime "pin" too freely on it--the ease of use of the site makes it easy to do.  But what a great opportunity to teach kids about ethical borrowing/ copying/ using pictures!

So what do teachers out there think?  Would you use Pinterest for yourself?  for your students?  And for that matter, is it available to your students?  or is it blocked since it is a social media site?  Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Evaluating Wikipedia by Noodletools

I've spoken about Noodletools before--the site is great for teaching kids citation formatting and keeping notes for research.  The site also from time to time puts out some support articles--good bits and pieces of information to help with the research process.  This article I found especially interesting-- How do I evaluate Wikipedia?

I've said before as a librarian, sometimes I'm too quick to dismiss Wikipedia and to my students, that makes me look like an old fuddy duddy.  This article helps me explain to them how Wikipedia can be a useful tool but not be the "end all, be all" for their research. 

For example, did you know this?
                         A bronze star (to the right of the article’s title) signals a polished article of higher quality.

I sure didn't know about this.  The article has several other tips and ideas to consider when using Wikipedia.  And of course, there's information on how to correctly cite any articles used for research.

As librarians and teachers, we need to teach our students to think critically about sources--Wikipedia is only one of many that kids encounter.  As adults, we need to stop being so quick to dismiss it since the kids rely so heavily on it.  But we do need to train them to evaluate--to think critically-- about any source, whether it's a wiki or published research.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Creating a portfolio with Evernote

I am just now learning about the wonders of Evernote.  This program is a great example of cloud computing.  You can store text, documents, photos, videos--what have you-- and then access the information from other sites.  There's a web based version, a Windows version and apps for Iphones and Ipads.  For example I made a grocery list for our RV on my computer then emailed it to my husband.  He had some suggestions to add to it so i opened the app on my phone and added there.  Really cool program!

Well, now I see this article on creating student portfolios with Evernote.  I can see so many possibilities here!  Students can put assignments here or take pictures of projects.  They can add to it at home or on the go with their Ipods.

I also have lots of students who need to continue working on assignments at home.  They can't access their school server files easily from home, but what if they stored the documents in Evernote?  No need for flash drives!

I think learning more about this program is going to be one of my goals this summer.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Importance of libraries

As my final NLW posting, this video is from Brad Meltzer, author and honorary chairman of National Library Week for ALA. He talks about the importance of a library to him as a child.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My librarian friends in Large Ol' School District

A list of librarians I admire would be incomplete without mentioning the fabulous librarians I work with.  I've tried to be very careful about mentioning where I work--I want the freedom to express my opinions and not make my readers feel like I'm expressing district opinions.  So sufice it to say, my district--Large Ol' District, for lack of a better name--has the best librarians around!  The 35 women who work at the various campuses are some of the most dedicated, hard working people I know. 

We are trying to stay ahead of the curve in terms of digital learning.  For example, nearly every one of our schools wants to participate in funding a subscription to Overdrive even with the impact on budgets because it's the way of the future.  Our elementary schools are teaching researching through databases and using tools like Noodletools to our youngest students so they are prepared when they reach us at high school.  Our middle schools continue on with that research instruction while fostering a love of reading that sometimes gets lost as kids get older.  Our high schools cover research in subjects ranging from academics to culinary to auto to vet tech to cosmotology.  In addition we have IB classes, AP/ pre-AP classes, ESL classes, Sped classes and everything in between.

We've been hit hard with budget issues lately and everyone is coping.  The hardest hit were our middle school librarians, who lost their assistants.  But yet, they still teach research lessons, do booktalks for kids and generally keep things going, smiling all the while.  I've been a middle school librarian--I don't know how they are doing it.

At the high schools, we lost one assistant but still have one.  Things get a little hectic--for example, when I'm trying to teach a class and another comes in for checkout and yet more students walk in for help.  Two people serving 2000 students don't stretch very far.  But again, not to blow my own horn, the high school librarians are doing whatever it takes to make the library program successful. 

Our elementary librarians are some of the most cheerful, bubbly people I know.  I laughed when I attended one of their meetings because they were so animated!  A huge change from the secondary meetings!!  But their personalities and passion for reading and learning start our kids out in the right direction.  Without the foundation they give our students, our jobs would be so much harder!

So ladies--you know who you are in the Large Ol' School  District--I salute you all.  You make me proud to be a librarian.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Joyce Valenza

A list of librarians to know and follow would not be complete without mentioning Joyce Valenza. Her knowledge and sharing of information keeps most of us afloat. Her Never Ending Search blog found in School Library Journal is my inspiration--the latest news, trends and books in the world of school libraries.

Her latest post discusses a study of ereaders--giving some of the pertinant facts and statistics about the rise of ereaders.  Her concerns mirror mine--will this information be used to downplay the importance of libraries?  How do we get the word out that we are so much more?

Some of the pertinant facts about ereaders:
  • In a head-to-head competition, people prefer e-books to printed books when they want speedy access and portability, but print wins out when people are reading to children and sharing books with others.
  • E-book reading happens across an array of devices, including smartphones.
  • 30% of those who read e-content say they now spend more time reading, and owners of tablets and e-book readers particularly stand out as reading more now.
  • Those who own e-book reading devices stand out from other book readers and there are sometimes differences among device owners in their reading habits. Our December 2011 survey found that those age 16 and older who own tablets or e-book reading devices are more likely than others to read for every reason: for pleasure, for personal research, for current events, and for work or school.

  • All in all, interesting reading and food for thought. 

    So here's my suggestion--If you don't follow any other librarian through Twitter or blogs, follow Joyce Valenza.  Her knowledge and wisdom will vastly improve your skill as a librarian and keep you current on trends and news that affects you.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Texas schools in the Hunger Games

    So as we continue along through National Library Week, another librarian I admire works closer to me.  Sara Stevenson is the librarian at a local middle school.  Periodically she writes opinion pieces published in our paper. Last week she had a piece comparing the testing situation in the state of Texas to the novel The Hunger Games.  It was spot on!  I am so envious--I wish I was that clever, eloquent, well-spoken.....well, you get the picture.

    I love Sara's passion for school libraries and the way she writes -- people understand the problems we face.  Not just in the library world but with education across our state in general. Too much testing, not enough instructional time--these are problems affecting all of us, not just librarians. 

    This article was especially good because of the analogy to the Hunger Games, the hot title of the moment.  She compares Gov. Perry to President Snow.

                        Instead of investing in the state's own citizens, Texas legislators, along with Gov. Rick Perry (aka "President Snow"), chose to pour $468 million in tax dollars into a British company, Pearson, for developing a new round of high-stakes tests: the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness.

    And the analogy continues on. She refers to the unfortunate fate of District 13 in the book--a nuclear bomb because the district did not "behave."

                 The stakes rise with each subsequent failure. Schools and districts live under the threat of the "unacceptable" label or "bomb." As a result, schools conduct their business in fear and without freedom.

     When I sent Sara an email telling her my admiration for her article, she told me that ironically, the idea came to her while she was monitoring the STAAR testing a few weeks ago.  She looked around the room and saw a student reading the popular title and the idea blossomed from there.

    All I can say is, "Good job Sara!"  And quite frankly, I'm jealous I didn't think of it first!

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    National Library Week

    This is National Library Week.  And to celebrate this week, I'm going to highlight some of my library "heroes"--librarians I admire for their dedication to our field.  Today I would like to share an article from The Unquiet Library--a blog by Buffy Hamilton.  She is an outstanding leader in the world of school librarianship and her blog posting is entitled "Do I really have to leave the role of school librarian to do the work of a school librarian?"

    She discusses an article in the current issue of School Library Journal about a librarian who leaves the library to becomes a technology coordinator. The author of the SLJ article wonders if this is what we librarians will need to do in order to insure our future survival.  As Buffy states, 
                       We’ve wondered about the future of the profession and the challenges of becoming more immersed as an instructional leader and pedagogy specialist in a current model of school librarianship that is physically limiting in the sense that one person, two at best in most places, is expected to excel in multiple roles for student populations that might vary from 850 to 2500 students and up to 100+ faculty in a building.

    But is turning into something else the answer?  Why can't we be proud of our job as librarians?

               I respectfully disagree with Linda Braun that the future of school librarianship is to walk away from our title and to try and do the same or similar work under a different title.

    And while this may not be the best response to the article, the doubts and worries I have for the future are reflected in her article so I know I'm not alone. Seems like all across the country schools are facing the same issues--too much testing, not enough budget--and libraries and librarians are ending up near the bottom of the list of priorities. 

     I just need to keep the faith--

               in my heart I  still believe in the possibilities of libraries and school librarians–but those will never come to fruition if we acquiesce and abandon the effort to elevate the library as a site of participatory culture and a cornerstone of every child’s learning experience in schools, as a partner who can support our teachers by being embedded as part of the team to give every child positive, constructive, and meaningful learning experiences...

    Read her article.  She is much more eloquent and professional than I could ever hope to be. 

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    Do schools kill creativity?

    As I tell my students, "Hoppy Easter!"  We have Monday off --a bad weather day and luckily we didn't have any bad weather this winter--yippee!!

    Here's something to think about over the long weekend. Another great TED Talks video--this one by Dr. Ken Robinson who talks about the fact that schools tend to kill creativity in students.  Words to think about...

    Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    Great SLJ article

    This month's edition of School Library Journal has a great cover article entitled Why Read?  The author has done a fabulous job of showing the importance of reading in terms of child development.  He addresses the link between literacy and imagination. 

    I wish I could say I had written this paragraph because it is exactly the way I feel too.

                          My greatest joy, then, as now, was to find a place away from others, to be alone and have it happen again, the renewable miracle: to feel the world I live in start to slowly recede while at the same time another, different world builds itself more and more distinctly around me.

    I don't think too many kids are feeling this way about reading any more and that saddens me. Every time a student announces, "I don't read books" I just look at them and say, "I'm sorry."  They think I'm being snarky but I'm truly sorry they are missing out on a life changing experience. They are also missing out on developing the depth of learning in favor of skimming the surface of information.

    The article also talks about the sleep disorders prevelant these days because of the lack of "down time" and disengagement from wireless devices.  Kids are using their phones all day long and all through the night because "OMG I might miss a text!"  or some other equally "important" communication.  We're losing the idea of unstructured time--time to develop deep thinking skills. 

    Another great line from the article--"What Wordsworth called the “shades of the prison-house” have not yet closed around us; there’s still time available for letting the mind go investigating."  Reading will let us do this investigating giving the focus and time to concentrate--let our brain work through ideas.  Let's hope we never lose this concept of time.  For if we do, what sort of people will we have become?

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Flipped classrooms

    Here's a nice infographic concerning flipped classrooms. I'm still on the fence on this issue.  I see the benefits for students and this infographic has some very convincing statistics.  However, I also work with many students whose Internet access is sketchy at best.  If they didn't have access to our school library, they wouldn't have Internet access at all.  How does this idea then really benefit them?  What about the kids who aren't doing homework now--what would be the incentive for them to watch a video before class?

    And I work with enough teachers who don't have the technology skills to put together videos 3-5 times a week.  I know they need to learn this skill but I also know of many who won't, can't or just don't want to give up the time.  I guess until teachers shift their mindset to seeing the benefits of this typ of instruction, changes will not happen. 

    But take a look at this infographic.  It's got some very compelling statistics--makes one pause to think.

    Flipped Classroom

    Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Riding Shotgun

    A great book for professional reading--here's my review!

    The book Riding Shotgun addresses the topic of student-led change within a school.  The authors, Christine Simpson and Sarah Ambrus, provide anecdotal experiences as well as tools to facilitate implementation of change. 
     “Students are the drivers of change, but there has to be a passenger riding shotgun: you, the educator.” (page 5) . Students can be empowered to provide real world solutions to the problems, resulting in changes that go far beyond the typical “band aid” approach taken by most schools.    But school officials can’t just expect students to know how to move from the “Brain Hurricane” of initial ideas to a focused workable solution without a good deal of guidance.
    Each chapter is designed to help administrators navigate the fine line between providing guidance for students and dominating the entire process, providing the framework needed to guide students from the initial steps to forming solutions, acting on those ideas and then studying the results to see where further improvements can be made.  Each step is illustrated by examples of the process in action at a pilot school where the students focused on the problem of bullying. 
    Additional chapters discuss the long term effects of the student driven changes, the positive impacts on the learning environment of the school and the leadership opportunities offered to the students involved in the change process.  Again, anecdotal evidence, combined with specific tools used, offers guidance for administrators who wish to involve students in a similar process.
    Student comments are included at the end of every chapter in the book.  These insights, from the very people affected by the program, show the true power of student-led change. 
    We hear so many negative stories these days about teens in our society.  This book, however, leaves the reader filled with a profound sense of optimism and faith in our students.  As one student said, “There are so many ideas out there waiting to be heard, just waiting to be given a voice.” (pg. 46) This book provides the adults in a school the means to give students that voice.

    Monday, April 2, 2012


    I know there are passionate feelings in the library world regarding Overdrive these days.  I think libraries are trying to figure out the best way  to work in the digital world and I don't know that Overdrive is the best way.  But right now, I think it's the best way to start. 

    Our district is trying to get an Overdrive account set up for our students.  It fits into our movement to a BYOD format since Overdrive covers multiple formats.  Also, they seem to have the most options of books available--although with Penguin's pull out, that might have changed.  I know some of the issues people have with Overdrive concern the publishers and there's nothing we can do about that right now.

    I think, too, this move is something public and a highly visible way to show our district's libraries are cutting edge.  Not too many school districts are able to get into the program due to cost, but we might be able to pull it together right now.  The PR value alone is worth it in my mind.  I'm tired of feeling like people think we are an old antiquated institution.  Having an ebook subscription and promoting it relentlessly would go a long way to polish our image.

    So if anyone out there in cyberspace has experience with Overdrive, I would love to hear what you think.  Any pros? cons?  What should my district consider before signing on the dotted line?  Please leave me some comments with your opinion.

    Friday, March 30, 2012

    Library Lady sings Lady Gaga

    Found this cute video from another Texas librarian. Really cute and quite appropriate for this time of year when we are trying desperately to get materials returned to us before the end of the school year! Enjoy!

    Thursday, March 29, 2012

    Open Culture

    Have I ever talked about the site called Open Culture? It's an amazing treasure trove of freebies available on the web. Everything from movies to university classes to books--it's all here! Any time I need to look for a book available online, I go here.  I probably should access more of their free movies since I'm an old movie buff.  And every time my hubby talks about wanting to improve his foreign language skills, I send him this link. 

    I follow Open Culture on Twitter to keep a running feed of new things available on their site.  I just discovered a download of all the organ pieces by Bach.  Might take me a while to download them all but think how cool that is! 

    Here's an example of the type of content on the site.  This is a video about Michael Pollan's books--In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemna--both excellent books even though they don't really go along with the educational theme of my blog. 

    Check out the site next time you have loads of time to explore!

    Michael Pollan's Food Rules from Marija Jacimovic on Vimeo.