Sunday, June 24, 2012

Angry Birds in the Library

At the end of the school year, we hold a celebration to recognize the top fifteen readers for the whole school year.  In May, I came across this blog post on the Teen Librarian's Toolbox sharing how to put together a Live Angry Birds event in the library.  I love blog posts with easy to follow directions and lots of pictures.  To get started, I gathered all of the supplies. I asked for help from a couple of crafty teachers.  I received 1:1 instruction on how to make the little pom pom birds.  (I was a little nervous about the pom pom part.)  

On the day of our event, we set up the blocks & boxes with the Angry Bird dodge balls on one side of the room.  On the other side of the room, we set up the following three tables:
1. green balloon table where students blew up the balloons and drew pig faces on them. 
2. the pom pom table where students created red, black and green pom pom angry birds using yarn, googly eyes and a hot glue gun. 
3. paper cup table with rubber bands & Popsicle sticks to create sling shots. Students flung their pom pom birds at paper cup structures. 

The kids had fun!  As I helped them create the pom pom birds, a student said to me, "You know we're readers, not crafters." The best part was the students did not want to leave at the end of our time.  (Yea!) The Live Angry Birds event was held the last week of school.  We had lots of different events & activities going on around the school, so I was flattered that they wanted to miss out on the other stuff in order to stay &  play in the library. 
What crafty reading celebrations do you have at your school?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why I decided to blog.

"When you want something, the whole universe conspires to give it to you" -Paulo Coelho

During the last week of school, I came across this blog post by author Kate Messner introducing a virtual teacher writing camp called "Teachers Write!"  When I was in middle school and high school, I enjoyed writing short stories and poetry.  Back then, my head was full of fantastic stories and imagery that I had to get down on paper.

As an adult, I find myself reflecting often on experiences I have at work & home.  I compose in my head what happened, why it happened and what I learned.  The problem is that I never take time to capture those thoughts on paper.  As started to follow the virtual writing camp posts, I decided it was time I commit to capturing those reflections.

Another reason for starting this blog is to share with others.  The other night I read this post on "Venspired" where the author succinctly explains why educators should blog.  I've learned about new technologies, books and projects from blogs written by fellow educators.  As I write this, I recall this post written by Daring Librarian Gwyneth Jones. It's time for me to give back.   (It's all coming together!! )

The last push came last week when during a session about the Common Core standards our facilitator said we must encourage our students to write reflectively.  I want to encourage my students to write.  I want to be able to tell them that I write, not because I have to, but because I want to.  I want to be able to tell them that writing helps us all become better learners.

In my school, whenever teachers and students are on the hunt for an odd item, piece of technology or book, they start their search in the library.  We are the "go to" spot in our school for books and everything else. (I love that!)  So, what follows is a short list of my "go to" blogs for when I need to get inspired, learn about a new tech tool or catch up on what is going on in the library world:

The Adventures of Library Girl
The Daring Librarian
Eliterate Librarian
Free Technology for Teachers

Please share your "go to" blogs!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Professional Development

This summer break has started off with lots of professional development.  Our school district along with a nearby school district hosted the first ever SC Midlands Summit.  It was a great two days of learning.  I attended sessions about learning Chromebook ninja skills, how to use Picasa in the classroom, using photographs for visual storytelling and the programming language Scratch.

Starting next week, I am going to begin three PBS Teacherline courses.  I highly recommend PBS Teacherline courses for professional development.  It's not free, but definitely worth the investment.  So far, I have completed three online classes and always learn information & skills that I apply to my practice.  I've never taken three online courses at one time, so I may be MIA for a bit as I try to juggle online work & family life.

Along with reading blogs, Twitter and Facebook, I like to watch webinars to help me with my practice.  I usually sign up for email reminders and catch an archived webinar when I have a moment.  For example, this summer I want to learn about Common Core & flipped classrooms because those will be hot topics in my school this coming fall.  I'm going to watch a few webinars to help me get started.

Here's a list of sources for free online webinars:
The Future of Education
eSchool News
TL Virtual Cafe
NCompass Live
Library Journal
                                                     School Library Journal

Where do you go for professional development?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reading and Summer

Summer reading is on the forefront of my mind.  I’m seeing it everywhere.  Maybe it’s because I am a school librarian and my social networking tools are picking up posts about reading & summer.  

This past Sunday our local newspaper included this cover on Parade magazine.  I thought it was great that the cover story was about reading.  Earlier last week I also tuned in to watch Oprah’s Youtube video about her new 2.0 Book Club.  Oprah always pushing a good thing!  This year’s twitter hashtag #bookaday is in full swing.  Thank you author/teacher/book whisperer Donalyn Miller for encouraging us to share what we love to do! Earlier this week fellow librarian & friend Tamara Cox encouraged me to participate in a fun reading competition between teachers and librarians. Go #leagueoflibrarians! I don't have a competitive bone in me, but I'll support the cause.

My plans this summer include reading as much as possible.  I usually start off strong, but fizzle out.  Hopefully I will be able to keep reading until August 16th (the day we return to work) because I have a huge pile of books and audiobooks I want to get through (as pictured above).  Why do I put this pressure on myself?  Because I love reading stories and learning new things.  Reading young adult literature helps me recommend books to students and teachers.  I love a great story and talking about books is time well spent. Reading non-fiction helps me in my personal and professional life. In the past, reading non-fiction was not exciting for me, but now I pick up books about yoga, education, the study of habits and raising babies in France (my current non-fiction reading selection is pretty eclectic).

If you wonder what the big hype is about reading, read what author Walter Dean Myers has to say about reading.  He is the nation's latest ambassador for young people's literature.
I used to encourage students to read because it will take them to new places.  After reading Mr. Myers’s share how reading changed his life, I realized that reading should not be offered as an option to our students- it should be a requirement that is embraced because it will improve our lives, not burden it.

Are you reading this summer?