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

Fall Festivals

  • Posted on October 28, 2007 at 1:33 PM

Drive past elementary schools and you’ll see the signs for our Fall Festivals. Some are elaborate events with hayrides, animals, and entertainment. Others involve simple games designed by classroom teachers and manned by parent volunteers. All of these events demand teachers give extra time to the school in order to provide a night of family fun. Do you participate?

This year and last I have had a Chocolate Fountain in the library. (Did you know there was a website for The Chocolate Guy?) I have a simple home chocolate fountain like the ones you can order from Sephra. I had containers of 6 different styles of pretzels with varying amounts for 2 tickets each. I felt like I had to do a little bit of math while students weighed where they wanted one huge log, 4 pretzel sticks, 3 checkerboards or 2 pretzel crisps, twists, and bits and pieces.

One of the students asked why I chose chocolate as an activity so I spouted my favorite Arnold Adoff poem on Chocolate. Then I confessed that this was a booth for the parents to enjoy the most. The library stays relatively quiet during the fall festival and the smell of chocolate is a great treat to mom’s especially. For the remainder of the evening everyone is attracted to the smell that clings to me and I become very popular.

We gathered just over $100 with not too much effort. The students and parents were aware we were raising our money to buy new bean bag chairs in the library. 

Still, I have a confession to make. I was very GRUMPY at the beginning of the evening. When you arrive at school by 6:30 a.m. and it’s going to be at least 8:30 p.m. before you leave the building with NO time to go home and feed your own family afterschool, it’s understandable. I really didn’t want to stay. I watched several teachers slip away out the back door and I remembered the PTA’s disappointment that we weren’t going to have 100% teacher participation. At least I’m doing my part, I grumpily thought.

Then my attitude adjustment arrived in the form of former students. Hooray for those high school and middle school older siblings that come back each year for events like this. They love our school. They remember the library. They still love books and every one of them can tell me the name of a book they are currently reading. (So there you doom and gloomers who say our kids don’t choose to read!) They love their former librarian and I’m able to remind them that once I’ve been their librarian, I will always be their librarian. Plus, they remembered the chocolate last year and immediately came to partake.

Look at this image from the Essential Chocolate site. Chocolate, Chocolate, I love you so…..  Brings together happy people and good memories.

Professional Books for Us

  • Posted on October 28, 2007 at 1:07 PM

Kristin Fontichiaro’s book Active Learning Through Drama, Podcasting, and Puppetry from Libraries Unlimited ( is one of the top books I’m putting to use this year. Intended for grades K-8, you need this book to help teachers with Listening and Speaking skills standards.

This year I had many teachers upset when they realized at the last moment that they were expected to have given ten listening and ten speaking grades during the first nine weeks. Fortunately I could pull out Chapter 3: Telling and Retelling Stories Through Drama: Narrative Pantomine and Circle Drama.

Each week I will be adding titles to this list. Be sure to chime in with your comments.

Does it matter who leads us?

  • Posted on October 28, 2007 at 12:52 PM

The two candidates for ALA President have been announced: Camila Alire and J. Linda Williams. Does it matter who leads us? Should you care?

YES! Several years ago Barbara Stripling ran for ALA President, but lost to Michael Gorman (of the ‘I hate bloggers’ group). Michael appreciated school librarians, but it was not the same as having one of our own lead us. School library media specialists lost a wonderful opportunity to have representation at the national level. Will we do this again?

I am positive that both candidates are wonderful people. I encourage you to learn more about both candidates. Email them. Ask them questions. Hold their feet to the fire. Ask what they intend to do to help school libraries/public libraries/all libraries.

Camila Alire is serving on the ALA Committee on Legislation which is very near and dear to my heart. She is currently professor of practice (adjunct) for Simmons College’s Ph.D. program in managerial leadership and adjunct professor for San Jose State University Library & Information Science’s executive MLIS managerial leadership program. Is this the same group that emailed me this week that "the San Jose School of Library and Information Science will enroll all of its MLIS students as members of the American Library Association (ALA) and the California Library Association (CLA)?"

J. Linda Williams is the coordinator of library media services for Anne Arundel County public schools in Annapolis, Md. She has served as AASL President and on the ALA Council Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC). Linda and I have worked closely together as we were both AASL Affiliate Assembly Chairs, were passionate about legislation and membership, and are both serving as ALA Councilors-at-Large right now. I know that Linda has a vision for librarianship as a profession that extends far beyond the school room walls. I hope you get to know her better during this campaign. She has my vote! (Which by the way does not imply endorsement by SLJ because I am just using my blog here to share my personal opinion not the corporate opinion. Forbid I went corporate!)

Out of the mouths of babes

  • Posted on October 28, 2007 at 12:40 PM

You need a place to share those cute, hysterical, unbelievable things that students say to you. Here it is. Leave a comment and tell us some of your very favorites.

I’ll start off with some of mine:

When planning which sources to use with 2nd graders using the Super3 Method, they identified they would need the teacher to help. I reminded them that I was also a teacher and actually had more schooling then their teachers. One little boy piped up and said, "We wouldn’t THINK of researching without you!" The teacher fell off her chair laughing in agreement.

At the end of our lesson on how to use the OPAC, I write "Tell us how you use the computer to find books." I remind them that the majority of them failed this on my pretest at the beginning of the year. Most write paragraphs. One wrote, "First I click KC the robot. Then I click Type Search. Then I ask the teacher for help."

How can I grade that answer? It’s exactly what the child does. My favorite part of this lesson is when I roleplay finding books on the computer and then I stand there with my arms out waiting for the book to magically fall into my hands. When the students realize there is an entire component of translating the computer to the key to walking around and finding what they need, there is an AHA moment!

My autistic CBIP class visited this week to take books. They usually have great names for me in the hallway afterwards: "Book Babe" "Fun Lady" "Mrs. Library" and "Computerbooker person"

My all-time favorite ever: One little boy who loved our library came in and said, "When I grow up, I’m going to be a school librarian. Unless it’s too hard and then I’ll be a marine."

Tech Coaches – Our Friends

  • Posted on October 19, 2007 at 3:03 PM

Recently I talked about being "lured by the dark side" of technology with library information specialists in New York (see Chris Harris’ blog mention). I was actually referring to the division between technology coaches and library information specialists.

In some districts this is blurred because the LIS is the tech coach. In others there is a strained antagonistic relationship between two groups vying for the power and control of internet/technology resources. In still others the LIS works hand in hand with the tech coach. I don’t know about you, but I choose the third option.

I do love technology and how it can help our students. The reason I haven’t gone over to the dark side is that I love watching the daily impact we have using technology with students more than sharing this with teachers. I am happiest when I can actually do both and work with teachers in my building and throughout districts on practical skills, but I refuse to give up my relationship with students and their immediate learning. 

I happily choose to celebrate the tech coaches of the world including this new tech coach who is blogging about her experiences at  I need to remember to send more notes of new technologies and instructional approaches to these tech coaches. They need to hear from us as to what we really need. Check out her article on CAPTIVATE! Cool!

10 people for dinner

  • Posted on October 18, 2007 at 8:46 PM

Desperate readers will read EVERYTHING within reach. Having finished two novels on a recent flight, I perused the Southwest Airlines Spirit flight magazine (October, 2007 Vol. 16, #10, pp 90-95) and found Daniel Radosh‘ article "Everyone should blog."

I was unable to locate Radosh’ article online, but did read Tina’s blog about stumbling upon this article (much as I did) with a business perspective to blogging. (I’m glad I spent time thinking deeply about the article while on the plane because I don’t agree with everything in his blog.)

According to Radosh a "recent PEW internet survey found that only 13% of bloggers report having more than 100 readers daily; most have fewer than ten."

Lest you be discouraged, Radosh puts this into perspective "If you held a dinner party every night and talked to ten people at each one, you’d be Mr. or Ms. Popularity." Aha! I interpret this to mean the conversation is important and the statistics are not really that important a factor for judging impact. Don’t sweat small numbers of readers or commentors.

Another fact I found fascinating in the PEW internet survey involved blogging as the first foray to authorship. "Sixty-two percent of bloggers did not have a personal website before launching their blog and 54% of bloggers had not published their writing or media creations anywhere else, either online or offline."

If you have been passively reading blogs without making any comments, the time is now to begin writing. Start by posting a simple comment on someone’s blog that you read today. Just let them know you were at the dinner party. Then think about what you have to contribute to the edubiblioblogosphere.

Stop Nagging Me, Books!

  • Posted on October 17, 2007 at 6:35 PM

Those piles of books around my house have been nagging me lately. "Read me!" "No, read me first!" they demand. "Stop writing and read me," they plead. "Laundry isn’t as exciting," they whisper.

Since they won’t be silenced, I thought I’d quickly let you know what I’m simultaneously reading and "thinking about" instead of writing on this blog today. Here are the chapter/fiction books:

 Derby Girl by Shauna Gross (A girl with blue hair and a mother trying to force her into beauty pageants? I am sooo there) 

 Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell (Check out the teaching guide here)

 Lobsterland by Susan Carlton (Can I relate to life with clinically depressed people?!)

To Catch a Mermaid by Suzanne Selfors and illustrated by Catia Chien

The House of a Million Pets by Ann Hodgman (Uh-Oh! Is this my house?)

 Mokie and Bik by Wendy Orr (Illustrator Jonathan Bean has been VERY busy)

If I don’t surface soon, send help!

Picture Book Companions

  • Posted on October 17, 2007 at 5:05 PM

The Top Job was written by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel and illustrated by Robert Neubecker. This title is on my list of favorites this year for ages 4-8. There are depths for many ages and I was amazed at the older students’ interest. Students keep asking questions and want to know much more after hearing this story. The boys in particular paid attention to every detail of the tools, equipment, and journey to the top. Just tell me, why did I ever ask them "Does anyone have any questions?"

  • "Are there really sticky-bottomed climbing books?" asked one group.
  • "What is that famous New York landmark?"
  • "Do people really do that?"
  • "Why don’t they just have robots go up there and change the most important lightbulb in NYC?"
  • "Why did the illustrator do that? Can I do that, too?"
  • "Why don’t we have career day?"
  • "Would you read it again?"

Another Day in the Milky Way was written and illustrated by David Milgrim. Since I have many of his Pip and Otto titles, I wanted to see if this title had anything to do with constellations. Not! But it was a funny alternate universe for our character to wake up in.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein captured me with these two sentences:

Everything was going well
until the first leaf fell.
"Are you okay?" he wondered.

I was hooked. The simplicity and yet honest wonder is so perfect for my youngest students. David knows what little ones are thinking as they watch the leaves. The illustrations are exactly what I needed for my fall unit.

We can role-play this with my autistic, visually impaired and preschool.
My kindergartners can rejoice at how bear learns about the seasons. (This gives them the chance to be superior in knowledge for once!)
My older students can use this as a writing model for point of view and prior knowledge.

Thank you, David! This title is now on my perpetual re-order list for fall. I can’t wait to bring this title back out in Spring after our hibernation unit ends.

April Pulley Sayre

  • Posted on October 9, 2007 at 12:00 AM

I contacted author April Pulley Sayre from her website while I was seeking background information for my post on Vulture View. I wanted to know if she had any additional information to share with you, the reader, and I wanted to learn more about why she chose vultures.  Here is her reply:

Readers can look for a review of it in the October 15th Booklist.  Also, I just found out it is a finalist for the AAAS/SB&F/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Picture books. Yippee!

I see the book as being not just about vultures, but about physics.  Kids who read the book immediately understand that warm air generally rises and cool air generally sinks. I’ve read the book aloud to large groups during school visits in the last few months. The book is particularly appealing to older readers, all the way up to 5th grade. They think vultures are "cool."  The younger readers like the opportunity for the read aloud participation. Little kids love saying "Up, up!" and "No, no!"

I have seen vultures migrating, by the thousands, through the country of Panama, in Central America. I’ve also sat on top of a tower in the rainforest, a few feet away from a black vulture.
When I was in high school I helped take care of an injured vulture at a raptor rehabilitation center in South Carolina.

Oh…please let your readers know about the upcoming new conference I will be speaking at, not that far from you.

Teachers, Literacy Coaches, Media Specialists and Administrators –

On Friday, November 2, 2007, join other professionals for a day devoted to the writing process and the decisions behind an author’s words. Voices in Children’s Literature ( is a one-day literature conference being offered at Unicoi State Park. New York Editor Kristin Daly from HarperCollins will join a faculty of six critically acclaimed authors of children’s books to offer insights on character development, plot, conflict, illustration, voice and the craft of writing. There will also be a heavy emphasis on the different text-types of creative nonfiction. For those of you feeling a bit daunted by the new GA writing assessment, this is a wonderful opportunity to explore a variety of formats that mix factual information with narrative features.

Listen to presentations on historical fiction, nonfiction, poetry and story. Hear from the authors themselves how they brainstorm, write and revise to create the strongest books for children. Take back specific strategies that you can add to both your reading and writing workshops. Learn how to help students strengthen their writing and enjoy the revision process.

A large selection of children’s literature will be on sale all day. Authors will autograph and personalize books for attendees.

On the following day, Saturday, November 3, a writers’ intensive called Wordworks will be offered to anyone who wants to or does write for children. Participants will spend most of the day in a workshop setting with one of the authors focusing on a particular genre of writing. Manuscript critiques are also available for an additional fee. Again, Kristin Daly, editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, will address the group twice with guidance and support on how to successfully market in today’s publishing world.

For more information, or to register, visit this website:    If you have questions, you can email: .

So, readers, will any of you be attending the Voices in Children’s Literature or Wordworks workshops?

Glass Slipper Gold Sandal

  • Posted on October 8, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Glass Slipper Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella from Paul Fleischman with illustrations by Julie Paschkis arrived last week. This is an interesting addition to the thousands of Cinderella tales told around the world as this combines many traditions into one tale. Every time a variation occurs the country of origin is indicated in the illustrations. The end pages have a world map showing the countries listed inside.

The illustrations are distinctive and beautiful. The title has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and School Library Journal. But I want to talk to people who are using this book as a global introduction to folktales. I would love to hear from teachers and librarians who are reading this to their students.

Are students able to easily follow this story?
How do they react whenever they hear distinctively different cultural references such as the Korean version of the stepmother wrapping her in a mat to hide her?
Does the story maintain it’s interest or get bogged down its dizzying spin throughout the world?
How do you take advantage of the many cultures represented?
How are you extending this title?

I’ll try this with my third graders and I expect you to post some comments as you try this with your students.