You are currently browsing the archives for August 2007.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 13 entries.

That's Good! That's Bad!

  • Posted on August 30, 2007 at 4:07 PM

Margery Cuyler is an author we enjoy and eagerly anticipate her new titles. They meet so many curricular needs, plus they’re fun read-alouds that are requested again.  Margery Cuyler’s newest is That’s Good! That’s Bad! In Washington, DC with illustrations by Michael Garland and published by Henry Holt and Company.

Cuyler has produced two other titles in this good-bad format (That’s Good! That’s Bad! and That’s Good! That’s Bad! in the Grand Canyon.) and this title will join my list of writing models. Check out librarian Amy Kincaid‘s site for more comparative suggestions. Years ago I used Remy Charlip’s Fortunately as the model for a writing device. While a favorite black and white title, it was difficult to locate and current students weren’t as excited. The illustrations are such great fun in Cuyler and Garland’s new title that I know this will become an instant favorite for our Washington, DC and symbols of the U.S. units.

I can’t wait for the symbols units though so I intend to play up the class field trip aspect to plan a collaborative lesson with teachers. I’ll be working with students to integrate social studies and map skills as we produce our own version of our Good-Bad field trip. I can’t wait to see how creative the students will be. Perhaps they’ll produce the field guide to traveling in Nashville.
Two new titles Cuyler has released are Please Play Safe: Penguin’s Guide to Playground Safety that will be joining my section of manners titles for the teacher’s beginning of the year units) and Groundhog Stays Up Late (February and hibernation units). Cuyler definitely has her finger on elementary student’s curriculum. Whether it’s 100th day, holidays, fire safety, snowmen, and poetry, she has produced a title. I think I’d better email her some ideas. Margery, do you take suggestions for new books?

Exclamations and Zoo's

  • Posted on August 29, 2007 at 12:00 AM

I love student teachers and their questions. One of ours came rushing in to find books to help teach exclamation marks and also zoo animals. Ahhh! The rush of fast thinking as our minds scurry through the tons of picture book titles stored in the recesses and oversized shelving of our brains. Yo! Yes? came to mind for exclamations but it had worn out. Quickly I put that on my reorder list and checked to see who else in our district owned it, but, alas! she needed it early tomorrow so there was no time for inner-district mailing. Punctuation takes a vacation? Every second grade teacher has it checked out.  Exclamation Point by Abdo – ordering, but not in yet. Emma Exclamation Point – ordering, but not in yet. Was I doomed?

Fortunately while I was simultaneously typing frantically in the computer and flipping through the stacks of books in piles of my mind, I was also showing the student teacher how to search our OPAC for zoo titles. While she was rushing back and forth with books, she browsed nearby titles and stumbled across a totally unrelated book that alternated pages with strong emotions (!’s) and facts (.’s). PHEW!

Back to the zoo titles, while we pulled out old favorites, I remembered Henry Holt and Company had sent me a new title in their series of math at the zoo — Cheetah Math: Learning about Division From Baby Cheetahs by Ann Whitehead Nagda in collaboration with the San Diego Zoo. Aha! Tying in division, repeated subtraction, animal life, extinction, activism and reading for a purpose. I dare you to read one of these titles and resist researching more on the website!  You’ll have to check out their catalog or view some of the other titles in the set.

Do You LOVE What You DO?

  • Posted on August 28, 2007 at 2:37 PM

If you met a total stranger, could they tell you love what you do? Life is too short to be unhappy. Find a way to celebrate the positives of your position and minimize the negatives. If you are beset by worries and troubles, take greater notice of the little things that are good about your job.

A kindergartner stood with his hands on his hips as he prepared to leave the library after his first time checking out a book. He looked me squarely in the eye and emphatically said, "I’ll be seeing YOU again soon." He went home and told his dad that we actually had lots of cool books so his dad had "better practice up reading."

Little things, little ones. Those are what I love about my job. I do have the best job in school. Let me hear you say it.

Military Books

  • Posted on August 27, 2007 at 6:06 PM

Bearport Publishing has produced several new series with military titles interspersed for you to consider purchasing for your students who are interested in the military. Intended for Hi-Lo readers with a reading level of about third grade and no more than 100 words on a page, these titles are less intimidating than most titles on these topics yet they are filled with enough facts to inspire our learners to keep reading.

Military Horses focuses upon horses used in wartime throughout history. I appreciated author Michael Sandler’s simple sentences in describing the important role of horses in many cultures (including the Huns in Asia). I learned that a riderless horse takes part in the funeral procession of a U. S. President. You can also read about Police Horses, Race Horses, Show Horses, Therapy Horses, and Working Horses in this Horse Power series.

Military Dogs is part of the Dog Heroes series including Disaster Search Dogs, Fire Dogs, Guide Dogs, Medical Detective Dogs, Police Dogs, Security Dogs, Service Dogs, Sled Dogs, Snow Search Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Water Rescue Dogs and WIlderness Search Dogs. I learned that our dogs serving in Iraq wear goggles to protect their eyes during sandstorms. I was relieved to read this and assume that our soldiers are receiving equivalent protection <grin>. Isn’t it amazing how the stories of these dogs can bring tears, yet we shy away from reading the real-life stories of our soldiers? I witnessed this weekend people weeping over dogs, but gliding past exhibits of Holocaust atrocities.

Please, publishers, get out there and give us more hero books in the military area, also. I have a large collection of books of heroes for their peace-efforts and civil rights work, but I also need to provide a sense of military history to our young. My sons love peace and protecting the Constitution. We should be recognizing the contributions of our soldiers and telling their stories to the younger generation now. By limiting our offerings in elementary schools to Pearl Harbor and simplified Civil War tales, we are neglecting a great deal of our history. Give us more options!

Military Mom

  • Posted on August 27, 2007 at 5:31 PM

Spending the past two weekends on military bases (Missouri and Georgia) has renewed my belief in the need for history books available at younger and younger ages. I love the posters that say "History is boring — NOT!" My students enjoy picking up a book from the 900’s to browse through. Certain topics remain popular like the Titanic, pyramids, Native Americans, our own state and Pearl Harbor. But why those topics?

I believe our curriculums are very narrow. Our textbooks cannot cover everything. One textbook I reviewed  had simply 2 sentences to most topics than dashed forward through U.S. History. Nashville schools experimented with Core Curriculum 10 years ago and for a short time students were exposed in slightly more depth to topics like Westward Expansion, the War of 1812, the French and Indian War, and ancient China. When Core Curriculum disappeared, so did the teacher-directed guidance towards these library books. Students do not have enough background knowledge to grasp why they should pick up a social studies book on something they have never heard about in class or at home.

Publishers read the textbooks and they market their series to the titles most needed to support the curriculum. Publishers know we are operating under miniscule budgets and have to make tough choices, so they don’t produce the wide variety of topics for historical books. This is a shame. I noted some areas that drew viewers interest while we were touring the Infantry Museum on Fort Benning, GA.

The War Dogs exhibit was very moving. I could have spent hours there watching the videos and studying the exhibit. I did spend over an hour in one small area dedicated to Army Medal of Honor winners and their stories. I found their stories fascinating and the exhibit left me wanting to learn more about these heroic soldiers. My son’s friends found the Holocaust exhibit most powerful. It seems they had never discussed it in ES, MS, or HS so they were shocked. All of us were completely overwhelmed and agreed that you couldn’t see all of it in one trip.

A visit to the museum that left us wanting more and needing to go to the public library to research on our own interests. Aha! This is what we should be doing more of in school instead of practicing our test-taking skills. We should be using our history, our museums, and our people’s stories to build background knowledge, set the scenario for study, and leave us asking for more.
Want to see my reasons for heading to the base? Meet my two of my sons: PFC Chen and PFC Chiupka.


  • Posted on August 23, 2007 at 9:08 PM

Everyone has bad days. While I am an irritatingly optimistic person, there are even days when I become discouraged. I vision, I set goals and share them, I make practical plans, but still obstacles arise. Amazingly I found encouragement for work while visiting my neighbor Kerrie’s church this weekend. No matter what religion you practice I think you can agree with these four causes of discouragement:

1.  Fatigue
2.  Frustration
3.  Failure
4.  Fear

So what did Pastor Dr. Ron Hamm suggest were the cures:

1.  Rest Your Body
2.  Reorganize your life

3.  Remember the Lord

Perhaps you would like to rephrase the last one for work to :  Remember the goodness in what you do. Remember your purpose. Remember your successes. Remember others who helped you get where you are. Make emotional deposits and withdrawals as needed (Covey).

I think you will agree that resting and reorganizing will help. If you are feeling discouraged, don’t hide it. Reach out to others and let them encourage you. Educators are usually very caring of other’s feelings. We are sympathetic and want to help. Go give someone the opportunity to help you. Join LM_NET, AASL, and your state library organization. Read professional journals. Read and post to blogs. Take a class. Get out of your silo and surround yourself with positive people.

And, if all else fails, go read a book strictly for fun or run through the sprinkler. It’s hard to be so discouraged when you don’t take yourself too seriously. Things will look up soon. You are not alone.

Manners in the library?

  • Posted on August 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM

This year I posted for teachers my lists of the books about the first day of school and new beginnings. Many teachers took over my past activities such as putting lip stamps or heart stickers on the hands of new kindergartners (The Kissing Hand by Penn) and my postcards with buttons glued on by students along with my handwritten note to parents that "I like their child" (I Like Your Buttons by Sarah Marwil Lamstein). So how could I read a story the first week of school to every kindergarten class that would help them learn how to sit in a storytime situation, allow active participation and give me the chance to teach something about the library?

Fortunately Picture Window Books came to the rescue with their new "Way To Be!: Manners" series and the book "Manners in the Library." Simple phrases, not too many words, clear up-to-date examples of apropriate library usage, and the repetition on every two page spread that "He (or she based on the page) is using good manners." Every child picked up the pattern, chimed in, learned how NOT to shout, and came to value positively the phrase "good manners." The teachers asked that I hurriedly order all the books in the series because of the positive effect this had on the class.

Our school is implementing a complement system using large buttons. I carry a large container of these buttons around and look for opportunities where students are using their good manners and new friendship skills so I can award the buttons. Since teachers cannot award their own students and most of the teachers are so swamped that they aren’t remembering to distribute these, I have become a popular person known for recognizing good behavior. Not bad for our first day of story time (6 prek/K classes on the Wed. after school started Monday).

Goals for the new year

  • Posted on August 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM

What are your goals this year? Too busy to write some? You MUST set some professional goals now before the library activity grows even more hectic. Do you intend to plan new units with that third grade team? Will you be analyzing your curriulum in regards to the new reading series? Will you be assessing student achievement based upon the new district standards? Will you be incorporating a flexible schedule for the first time? Will you file all your lessons once a week? (When you finish, could you come file mine?)

In addition to your professional goals, it’s time to set some PERSONAL goals to take care of yourself. I thought I’d share some of mine.

*Set Boundaries. 

Let the faculty know that you are working on this area of your life and you need their help. I now have some flash cards that actually say "No," "Hell, NO!", "Maybe and that’s FINAL" that I periodically flip through to see if I should be pausing a moment before taking on everyone else’s "monkey on their back." Don’t worry, I’m still an Ado Annie type of gal, but I am learning that I need boundaries so teachers respect my time and my family time. I do not HAVE TO rush to school every weekend to open the building for teachers who want to putter around their rooms.

*Be Visible

Share the efforts I make to communicate and work with students, parents, and colleagues. Let others see the behind the scenes things rather than martyr myself.

*Be Healthy

I will drink more water this year, eat more fruits and veggies AT school, and take a bathroom break between 7 and 4. My kidneys will appreciate this.

*Use my Steven Covey card daily

I will work to categorize my activities into quadrants the first nine weeks of school so I can more efficiently and effectively finish my tasks. I will work on depositing in the emotional bank accounts and I will ENABLE teachers to make deposits, too.

*Enjoy what I’m doing

I love my profession. It is the very best in the world. I need to share the joy of this more often, not the overwhelming responsibilities and never-ending tasks.

What are your goals this year?

The Most Wonderful Days

  • Posted on August 19, 2007 at 9:10 PM

The first day of school is a wonderful time. I usually wear something extremely vivid, bright, and distinctive so people can send families towards me down long hallways for directions. This year I have an early morning post for duty near the breakfast hall so the majority of our students pass my way. How fun to have so many children rush up to greet you on the first day and ask if they get to check out that day?!

It’s so important for us to be visible throughout the school, not just in our own book domains. If I’d been hidden in my room doing the thousands of tasks that pile up around a school library information specialist, I’d never know how much I matter to the individuals of the school. Parents are our fans, too. Being visible on the first day and reminding everyone how much you count on their volunteering and support for the bookfair helps build our fanbase.

I carry a clipboard the first week of school listing every child and their classroom so I can help the lost sheep return to their flocks. If you venture into our hallways, you will find caring adults taking children’s hands and happily leading them back to those new teachers with the difficult names.

The children entering first grade had developed such a bond in kindergarten from coming to the library at LEAST twice a week last year, that they know the library is a safe, welcoming place to go when they need information. Children who wander from their teachers during tours, bathroom breaks, and marches to related arts know that they can come to the library to find their way home again. The office is at the front of the building, but we are in the center with a big smiley face on the window, "welcome back" banners above the door, and smiles on our faces.

It is GOOD to be the librarian, known by all students, parents, and teachers and an essential information person in our building.

Library Video Orientation

  • Posted on August 19, 2007 at 9:02 PM

Librarian extraordinaire Jill Lambert of Whitsitt Elementary has posted a fun video to TeacherTube for her Library Orientation this year at While YouTube is blocked throughout our district and most districts in Tennessee, TeacherTube is welcomed and promoted at Inservices.

I encourage you to explore the videos available free to your faculty at TeacherTube. You’ll be amazed at the range and diversity. Perhaps you’ll consider uploading your new creations. Have fun and try something new this year.