Wednesday, February 29, 2012

School Libraries

Found this video and it has the best description of what teacher librarians do on a regular basis. It's from the Palm Beach County and Broward County School Library Programs. Share it with your principals and teachers!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

So a friend of mine just introduced me to  This is the coolest website!  The site describes itself as a online magazine that you can create.  I see it as a visual storehouse of blog postings or other articles from the web.  I found this great page about Information Powerhouses.  The author curates the page by adding new content pertinent to the topic.  And will suggest articles for you based on key words you add when you set up your page.

I can see lots of uses for this.  One school uses pages for research notes--"scooping" the articles and saving them for note-taking later on.  Or a teacher librarian could display use tips or sites for a particular assignment.

Of course, I couldn't see a new toy without playing around with it myself.  Here's the link to my page.  And you might have noticed the link on the right of this page.  I put a button that 's a direct link to it.  Take a look and let me know what you think.  I see it as an extension of this blog-- a place where I might store articles that I'm referencing in this blog.  Check it out and let me know what you think. I'm especially interested in ideas using for research!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Power of Story

I have recently found two diffent messages about the power of story. The first is a blog article from Dan Blank, founder of WeGrowMedia. He is also a teacher with Writer's Digest. His article talks about the power of story in terms of writing to get your message out there or to make an action happen.

The second is a video from the author of Tell to Win, a book on marketing and sales.

Both the video and the blog have some of the same themes running through them--the power of stories. If your students need a boost in their writing, have them look around for a story idea. Stories are everywhere.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Who ya gonna' call??

A great promotional video from the New York Public Library--enjoy! 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

21st century educator/ 21st century students

Courtesy of you teaching 21st century kids?  Are you a 21st century educator?  Look at these and see if you agree....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book reviews

Normally I try to keep this blog more professional and post topics of interest to language teachers and librarians. But today I have to blow my own horn. This month SLJ published not one but two of my reviews! I get exited when I see one in there but two of them was awesome!

They published my review of Spy School--very cute story about a math geek who gets invited to the CIA training school. Only it turns out to be a little more than advertised. My other review was a book called Perfected by Girls, a story of a female wrestler and the trouble she has at her school due to her choice of sport. Both are good books, ones I think would appeal to teens.

I'm just excited to see both in print at once! Now if I could just find a way to make some money as a reviewer.....I would be ecstatic........


A good book for your professional collection --Switch --How to change when change is hard.  Here is an  article with some exerpts from the book.

And here's a video summary.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Here's a fun website, but instead of writing about it, I'm just going to tell you about it. Click on the arrow button below the picture to find out more.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presentations with Prezi

Tired of sitting through powerpoint presetations? Want a cool tool for your next big meeting? Want to dazzle an administrator and get your message out there? Try using a Prezi instead of powerpoint.

Prezi is a unique presetation tool--it allows you to move around the page and highlight different areas of your screen.  The basic prezi tool is free to the public, but if you use it a lot, you might want to look at the subscription version with more bells and whistles. 

The free version would be great to share with your students for a project--book chats, biographical information, country facts....anything that might go to a powerpoint can go on a Prezi.  There's even information on the Prezi page about "Prezifying your Powerpoint."

So you can see what I'm talking about, here's a great example of a Prezi put together by a friend of mine.  She was asked to give a presentation about her library and the digital tools available.  Take a look and see if you agree with me--this presentation has a professional look and feel to it and it's way more fun than sitting through another "death by powerpoint" type of presentation!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Steve Jobs

Everyone else in the world has probably seen this video clip, but I just finished Steve Job's biography, and this speech really speaks to me.  I found the book fascinating, and it gave a great picture of the man behind Apple and Pixar.  He was a genius but flawed--in other words, a real human being.  But he had the gift of seeing that gadgets needed form as well as function--a relatively new concept at the time.

This video is his famous commencement speech given at Stanford University, June 2005.  No matter what your business, I think we can all relate to his words.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hunger Games

Wow--talk about a marketing campaign.  Here's the official site for the Hunger Games movie, due out March 23.  Trailers, games and so much more!  I, for one, am very anxious to see the movie.  I'm hoping it will be as good as the hype has been. 

I often wonder about marketing campaigns like this.  I know they help the movie but what about the novel the movie was based on?  Well in this case, I think it's working for both the movie and the book.  I cannot keep copies of this book on the shelves.  I've even had to buy more copies just to meet the demand!  I can tell every time a new trailer comes out--more kids come in for the book.  I had to laugh though.....a teacher came in and asked, "Have you heard of the book The Hunger Games?"  Uh, yeah.....just a little. There's a long waiting list.......

So enjoy the trailers and the official movie site for now....we only have 37 more days till the movie debuts on screens all around the country!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


One of the best parts of attending TCEA is walking through the vendor showcase. In one huge room you can see everything from new equipment to new software to and tshirts!  It's one of the most fun activities at the conference.

I spent a good bit of time talking to one of my favorite websites--Shmoop.  I recommend this site all the time to my students.  I call it "Spark Notes on Steriods" because the literature guides on the site are amazing!  Very thorough and complete.  As a former English teacher, I know the danger of recommend a "Cliff's Notes" version of a piece of literature, but sometimes, kids just don't get what they are reading.  And with a little help and explanation, they can get through a book they might have otherwise skipped.  Shmoop includes quotes and thematic info in addition to the plot summary.

I found out, though, the site also has some great SAT, PSAT, and AP practice tests.  This part is a subscription so it's not available to the general public.  I might try to subscribe next year and compare it to the site we currently use, depending on budget of course.  If the practice tests are as good as the literature guides, it would be a good deal.

If you haven't ever seen Shmoop, check it out.  It's a great site!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dr. Mary Ann Bell

Another presentor I thoroughly enjoyed at TCEA was Dr. Mary Ann Bell of Sam Houston State University.  Her presentation was entitled "Surviving Hard Times" and she had several great ideas to help libraries get through the current budget crisis. 

Some of her ideas involved tech issues that I have no control over.  And one idea was not to subscribe to AR any more.  That's a great idea and luckily, we don't use it here so no worries!  She did suggest looking at IPL  (Internet Public Library) for information to help supplement dwindling databases.  I always forget about that site!  And she mentioned some academic database lists from Wikipedia.  Haven't checked those out yet so I can't speak to that, but I would assume, since this is from Dr. Bell, it's a good resource.

The best suggestion she gave (and this isn't really one to get through the budget crisis) is to check out her page on Pinterest. It's called Mabell's Medicine Show for raising morale.  And she has some great pins on it!  I laughed and laughed.....and promptly repinned most of them! 

Another great speaker--if you ever get the chance to hear her speak, go!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tammy Worcester's Tech Tip of the Week

One of the best speakers I heard at TCEA was Tammy Worcester. Her Tammy's Tech Tip of the Week is a great way to keep up with new tools to use on the web. She sends out a tip a week via email or through a RSS feed.  Her presentation is the one that introduced me to Evernote.  She also mentioned another site called Dropbox, which is a site where you can store files and then pick the file up on another computer--again an example of cloud computing.

Another cute idea from her weekly tips is the Ifake Text site.  A great idea for a research project, this site allows students to put information into a template that mimics a text chat on various carriers.  This would be a fun assignment as well as one that does not lend itself to plagarism.

I have a copy of Tammy's book Google Tools for Teaching and Learning (link courtesy of Amazon.)  It's not so much a book to read cover to cover but rather to keep handy for a reference.

If you get the chance to hear Tammy speak at a conference, by all means go!  And if you don't get the chance to hear her in person, at least make sure you sign up for her Tech Tips of the Week.  You'll learn so much from her!

Friday, February 10, 2012


So am I the only person left in the world who hasn't been using Evernote?  What a fabulous website!  You can store documents, pictures and audio files from your device and pick it up on your computer or vice versa.  It's a perfect example of cloud computing. I have the app on my phone and took some notes from the TCEA conference and now I'm reviewing those notes on my computer.

This would solve so many problems for me when I need to transfer files and forget my USB drive.  I can also see suggesting it to kids so they won't lose their USB drive too!

Tammy Worcester's presentation gave me this website and many more.  Her Tammy's Tech Tips of the Week will keep you abreast of some of the latest and greatest tools out there on the web. 

Over the next few days, I'll share more of what I learned at TCEA. Right now, my head is spinning.....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oh my goodness!!

My head is spinning from everything I've learned today at TCEA. Watch this space-I'll be sharing my new knowledge with you soon!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Recharging the batteries this week.

So this is my week for learning and recharging and because of that, I may not get a chance to post as much as I would like.  Our district has a conference every February for teacher inservice.  Teachers present ideas and strategies that are working; groups get a chance to get together to plan and share, and the district brings in guest speakers to share with us all.

This week is also the week of the Texas Computer Educator's conference.  I'm going to go to that as well.  I'm looking forward to seeing lots of vendors and seeing more presentations from around the state.  There's a library strand at the conference so lots of sessions are directed to teacher librarians. 

So while I may not be able to post much this week, I should be learning lots that I can draw from and share in the days to come. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Internet? Bah!

OMG this is the funniest article....and a little scary too.  A fellow librarian ran across this article from Newsweek magazine dated 1995 entitled, The Internet, Bah! The writer is talking about the rise of the Internet, but he doesn't think it will become as big as people seem to think. I love this line:  "I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic."

Well, let's see.....Egypt's revolution, Libya's revolution, pretty much every revolution in the Middle East the past few years has been sparked by Twitter and Facebook.  I would love to find a telecommunting job so I could travel with my husband.  Virtual communities exist everywhere--my favorite is Ravelry, a great site for knitters and crocheters world-wide.  Our classrooms at my school are about as multimedia as they can be--projectors, computers, netbooks, doc cameras, clickers, MOBI boards--just to name some things off the top of my head.

Another great line: "Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors and publishers. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard."  Yes, every voice is heard.  If not, I couldn't write this blog.  Even if no one reads it right now, my words are going to be here for ........ever basically.  And if I ever get my novel finished, I might join the thousands who are bypassing editors to self publish.

Here is one place though the author got it right.  "What the Internet hucksters won't tell you is that the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don't know what to ignore and what's worth reading."  No kidding--and it's only getting worse.   We don't take time to train our children to become critical thinkers of what they read on the web. And as information grows exponentially on the web, the "wasteland of unfiltered data" is getting bigger and bigger--the bad outweighing the good.

But the funniest/ scariest part of this article--it is from 1995.  That's not even 20 years ago.  Can you even imagine where we will be 20 years from right now?  I'm not sure I can.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Is Dewey dying out?

Well, this post is for my librarian friends/ readers.  I found this article entitled "The Dewey Dilemna"  in Library Journal--it's from 2009 so it's been around a while.  I didn't realize this was as big of a controversy at all, and I'm still trying to process the information in my head.

Basically, the article talks about libraries moving away from the Dewey Decimal system and using a system called BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications).  This is the system used by Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc to classify books for sale.  It isn't as detailed as Dewey but consumers are more used to it and find it more user friendly.  This system classes books into 52 broad categories with several sub categories.  The article says "it fuses the functions of subject headings with classification". But the main point is people find it easier to navigate than using Dewey. 

I'm a bit torn here.  I'm all about customer service and making libraries accessible to the public.  But I'm quite frankly getting very tired of libraries being pushed to follow book store models.  Genre shelving, dropping Dewey, adding coffee bars--all these library trends are coming straight from bookstores (well, actually probably straight from Barnes and Noble).  I know we need to stay current and offer what people want.  But changing the way libraries classify books is just one too many changes for me.

I consider myself fairly current and I keep up with trends in the library/ publishing world.  I have  library Twitter and Facebook accounts.  We have digital signage; we display book trailers.  But why do we need to change an established system that has worked for a hundred years?  Why can't we do a better job of educating people on how the Dewey system works?  I studied the system of course in my cataloging class (many years ago...) but before that I learned the basics--through working as a shelver in my local public library. And before that as a child patron of the library, I knew where my favorite books were located and how to look for them on the catalog.  And if I couldn't find them, I knew to ask the librarian. 

One consultant quoted in the article says, "the issue isn't which system is superior; it's about the user's experience. When interviewing nonusers, [the consulatant] reports, “I heard over and over 'those numbers scare me,' 'I don't understand them,' 'they make me feel stupid.' The goal of having a BISAC-based scheme is to put customers at ease and help them become more self-sufficient and comfortable using the library.”

This paragraph from a library science professor is more along the lines of my opinion. 

Wayne Wiegand, professor of library and information studies and American studies at Florida State University, Tallahassee, says, “In general, bookstores do a better job of identifying newer titles relevant to their customers' interests, but that doesn't mean they understand those interests. They are mostly responding to a market demand.” While he thinks libraries should respond to what readers want rather than expecting readers to fit into the library's way of doing things, he takes a pragmatic view. “Dewey has faults but so does any other classification scheme.... To talk of changing classification systems at this time is unrealistic.”

So I would be interested in hearing from librarians...and teachers, too.....what do you do in your library?  Do you use genre shelving?  Do you use this book store model?  Am I being too old fashioned and unrealistic? 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Seth Godin

I have started reading Seth Godin's blog and receiving his newsletter.  The man has some good advice and he has a way of going straight to the point.  I wish I could be so eloquent and straightforward in my writing. 

His latest newsletter concerns what I think is the best description of the problem with SOPA I have read.  He talks about the availablity of information on the web and how especially music is benefitting from the "all access" idea or, as he calls it, Ubiquity (great word--that I had to look up to define!).  Now the movie folks are trying to get into the business of limiting access to the web through trying to promote SOPA.

Better than trying to explain everything he's written, I think I will just let you read his eloquent words at his blog -- the Domino project.