You are currently browsing the archives for April 2008.
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Jott updates

  • Posted on April 30, 2008 at 8:35 PM

JOTT – yes, that same program that Christopher Harris blogged about in May and in November is back on my mind again. My tech buddy Tisch sent me several notes of bloggers discussing JOTT like William “Bud” Deihl, and the Edublogger (Sue Waters) who included this info in her post Blogging Tools to Help You Blog:

Ken Pendergrass included Jott in his top 3 Web 2.o tools because he uses it everyday to give himself reminders via SMS and/or email. Michele Martin has written an excellent post on how she uses Jott to increase her productivity.

And yet Jott has even more potential. Karen Janowski highlights how Jott is a 21st century tool for learning by providing excellent examples of how we could use it with students in our classrooms.

Before JOTT sounded fun, but I didn’t really have an immediate need for it. Today I figured out how I can make it useful for school. I’m going to have students call JOTT to tell me what books to buy for next year and at the bookstore. It’s like voice messaging that doesn’t make me stop to make notes.

The students know when I’m going to the Bookstores like Barnes & Noble in Opry Mills (that is having  a teacher appreciation evening May 1st). The students then tuck notes in my bags, but sometimes they slip through the cracks (or caverns in my GINORMOUS purse as the Kdg’s say). With JOTT the messages can be sent to my email, my cell phone, and even blog or web pages simultaneously. No more notetaking.

To use JOTT you simply go online to their site, type in the phone number you will be JOTT’ing from, your email address and set a password. Then you dial their tollfree number, say "Self" to leave a message to yourself, start talking, stop talking, & listen for JOTT to say "Got it" then hang up. Come on…. That is so very easy you just have to try it out. 

Wait! It gets better. Ever need to text many people at the same time QUICKLY? Let’s say you are on your way to a party and suddenly need to change the location. You can go to the JOTT website, set up contacts in groups like FAMILY or FRIENDS, then when you phone in to JOTT simply say "FRIENDS" instead of self. Leave your message which will then be immediately sent out to everyone in your FRIENDS list, then if you remember someone else to JOTT a short text message or short voice message to you can stay on the line and keep recording until all your messages are taken care of.

There is just so much to discover. I’m trying to figure out how it will work with this blog since I am so often on my cell phones.


  • Posted on April 30, 2008 at 6:43 AM

Quick Shout Out to everyone celebrating El día de los niños/El día de los libros. Will we see you in Second Life tomorrow?

Suddenly Supernatural

  • Posted on April 27, 2008 at 7:20 PM

Suddenly Supernatural Book 1 School Spirit

Found an interesting review of Suddenly Supernatural from a student in Ms R’s English class using LibraryThing. While I’m not pretending it was the most well-written review, I was impressed with how the student captured some key quotes. Fantastic Fiction’s blurb seems to capture the essence of the book, but I feel in the mood to rattle on. While I was researching this title, I also found Olsen Middle School and Mr. Thatcher’s Gr 5-8 Students’ Blog where they reviewed this book in their own way. Be sure to read their comments on each other’s work.

Elizabeth Cody Kimmel’s newest series is Suddenly Supernatural with Book 1 School Spirit out this June by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. I read it very quickly and immediately was disappointed that Book 2 wasn’t out yet. Do you know the feeling? The author creates a large group of believable characters with many quirks and leaves mysteries unsolved for the future?
I actually found myself quite irritated with the main character at times. She was presented without concealor so we could "make-up" our own minds about her. All her flaws were there for us to see and groan about as she tries to come to terms with both 7th grade and developing psychic powers. You become involved because you want to send her messages to tell her what to do. Argh!

Maybe I was irritated because this was part supernatural, part comedy and I take my supernatural encounters much too seriously. <grin> If a dead person appears to me, you can bet I’m going to help them solve their problems so they go away as soon as possible. You won’t find me squeezing my eyes shut and whispering "Please, not now, please not now. Just not now." like Kat does.  Everyone knows closing your eyes and wishing just makes it harder to open your eyes and more likely that you’ll scream. I know. I’ve tried it. Spiders, snakes, bullies, they just keep coming and don’t disapparate.  

Suddenly Supernatural is a fun, mother-daughter story about accepting not being normal. As Kat’s mother says, "in reality there is no normal. Normal is something people have agreed to invent so we have something to compare ourselves to." Thankfully this is a story where both mother and daughter love each other and accept their imperfections.

This is a mystery, a school friendship story, and a comedic dealing-with-bullies-in-middle school tale. When a classmate comes to visit her "unusual" home while her mother is helping a client, you can’t help laughing at how Kat tries to pretend nothing strange is happening. I could just see her trying to ignore the floating lamps and bagpipes. If you’ve ever heard bagpipes, you know just thinking about them makes you laugh. Go enjoy Suddenly Supernatural. 

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, get back to work and send me #2 and #3. I am very impatient to see what happens next. I have suspicions and I can’t wait to read to see if I’m that smart or not. Being surprised by an author is one time when I enjoy being wrong.

Embarrassing moments

  • Posted on April 27, 2008 at 6:14 PM

Image:Magic wand.svgCreative innovative people sometimes get embarrassed. Recently I was pulling out my checkbook to pay for car repairs when I pulled out my fairytale magic wand (which is much prettier than the one to the left, but that image was public domain). I usually have it at my desk in case someone is having a bad day and needs to be magicked.

The repairman David looked at me and said, "Guess it doesn’t work on cars." 

Several years ago I forgot I was wearing a Cat in the Hat costume complete with facepaint. I drove up to the bank as normal and was filling out my ticket. When I glanced up, there were 10 people crowded into the window staring. I looked around and then looked in the mirror. I decided to play it straight-faced but said goodbye with a rhyme.

Good Grief! Doesn’t the entire universe celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday? Doesn’t everyone dress in costume and keep cool props in their briefcase and purse? 

I suppose you’ll be telling me that you don’t color your hair green on Earth Day?
I did it only one year because the students got a little hysterical and 8 years later still remind me of it when they see me in the street. 

Doesn’t anyone have fun anymore?

From Alice to Zen

  • Posted on April 26, 2008 at 1:26 PM

alice coverElizabeth Atkinson has written a book for tweens called From Alice to Zen and Everyone in Between (Carolrhoda Books at Lerner Publishing) I think it’s perfect for ages 9-14 so I hope you give it a read. 

It’s difficult to find books that are as realistic and age-appropriate as this. I envision this becoming a timeless realistic tale of an 11 year old girl who simply enjoys her perfect life building go-karts with her dad, playing soccer, tolerating her mom’s need to shop for pretty things with her, and hanging out with her pets. Alice and family move from Boston to the ‘burbs where she desperately hopes for a best friend her age. 

What does she find on the street named Hemlock Trail that has no hemlocks? A boy named Zenithal Stevie Wonder Malinowski who actually enjoys reading fashion magazines and singing Motown music and is far more concerned with body image than she is. Zen’s uniqueness make him an unlikely best friend, but he is prepared to offer Alice the full depth of his knowledge on "How to be popular in middle school."
I love the realistic questioning and searching for one’s self that occurs in this book. Alice doesn’t need excessive drama to realize she can make choices and be herself in middle school. She finds a way to accept herself, make her own choices of friends, and help others gain acceptance. She doesn’t need the make-up that makes her look 16 and she prefers her dad’s homemade lunches to the unappetizing appeal of eating school cafeteria lunches just to be like everyone else. Alice finds a way to be herself and accepts that she doesn’t have to be like the most popular people to be happy.
alice cover
I love the buzz about this book whether it’s from the local Newbury Port News, children’s letters to the author, or the fact that it was nominated for the 2008 ABC New Voices Award.

Also coming from this author is GLEE!: A Young Adult Guide to Gluten-Free Independence (coming soon). One of my colleagues has a son with gluten allergies and I can’t wait to show her this book. You should watch her at McDonalds ordering him a hamburger cooked with gloves on and no bun and wrapped in foil. It is quite the procedure. I’ve seen kosher kitchens before, but the gluten-free kitchen within the regular kitchen is an amazing struggle for normalcy. So far I haven’t cooked any of his foods in the wrong pan or had to throw out the dishes because I contaminated them.

What makes you Boil? a VENT

  • Posted on April 25, 2008 at 12:31 PM

Witnessing teachers taking books out of students’ hands makes my blood boil. It’s definitely a button that will get a response when you push it, so hands off their choice! 

The library is a place for children to choose freely.      Period. End of statement. If they ask for guidance, ok.

I’m so grateful that no one attempted to tell me that Black Beauty was too hard in first grade or that Eight Cousins was too old-fashioned for second grade. Or that I should stop reading series books in third grade because they were too easy for me. I loved Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew. Who cares if I was capable of reading Wuthering Heights then? I didn’t enjoy reading it until I went back as a teenager to re-read it. 

Doctor’s offices had big fat thick Biblical books for us to read and no one interrogated us as to whether we were comprehending every word for a test. They let me flip the pages and read the short stories that I wanted to. As long as I wasn’t asking them what every other word meant, they left me to read at will.  I’ll never forget the morning I asked my parents what insest was. They flew out of bed to see what horrible book I was reading and it was the Bible.

The next time you are tempted to yank a book out of a child’s hands because it doesn’t serve your assignment remember that MY assignment is free choice and life-long reading.   I will do battle with you to allow children to read the books they want.

This week I marched back to class with a child who had tearfully returned his non-fiction book because the teacher wanted him to read an easier 1.6 level picture book. He wanted the 2.1 level nonfiction book on crickets because he had caught one. 

My pointy chin came up as I informed his teacher that he would be reading an EXTRA book this week so he could read one for fun. If he lost it, I’d take responsibility. The child returned the book 2 days later with a bookmark for me showing the different parts of a cricket which he had labored over drawing for me. Which book benefitted him most?

I rest my vent.

Resident BlogArtist Ted Edinger

  • Posted on April 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

I decided we need a resident artist (and art teacher) on this blog to provide knowledgeable opinions and creative insights. Knowing that Ted, Janet, and Julie were all three recently accepted into the Master’s program, I took a chance on infiltrating their artiste’ group through Tisch and offered a book bribe. Hooray! Ted accepted. So, everyone, please welcome Ted Edinger as our very own resident artist. Yippee! Hooray!

Ted Edinger was born & raised in hills of southeastern Ohio.  Books, drawing, &  his imagination took him to places far beyond that little town of 70 people situated in the middle of a forest, and would eventually lead him around the U.S. & world.  After completing his student teaching in Montreal, Quebec as part of the International Student Teaching Program,  he returned to the U.S. to graduate from Bowling Green State University  in Dec. of 1996 with a B.S. in Art Education.  In Aug. of 1997 he moved to Nashville, TN to begin his career as an art educator.  Since that time, he has been a speaker at numerous Campus Crusade for Christ events,  a guest lecturer at Bowling Green State University, a mentor for Nashville Institute for Visual Art Educators,  a cooperating teacher for several Nashville area universities, and was part of the team the created the curriculum for Metro Nashville’s Elementary Art Teachers.  In his free time, Ted enjoys spending time with his wife, reading, painting, singing, and scrapbooking. 

See Ted’s TeacherWeb page, a sample of Ted’s art, his myspace blog, and his blog with wife Shana.

So, readers, I had to ask: .S. Are you related to the very famous children’s librarian/author Monica Edinger?

Ted’s reply: -as far as I know …not directly, but there are a lot of Edingers that are artists in Germany too!!!  Something about the name I guess..ha ha! 

Okay, enough chit chat. Let’s put Ted to work.

BlogArtist Ted E's review of An Artist's America

  • Posted on April 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Have you ever gazed upon a box of cereal & saw a significant time in our nation’s history? Driving past a fast food restaurant have you been reminded of a national monument? Do cleaning product aisles have the emotional impact of a trip to The Louvre for you? NO!!! Me either. However, if you spend some time looking at & reading An Artist’s America, by Michael Albert, you might change your mind.

This is not just something that the art teacher will “get”, but a book that crosses curriculum, culture, socio economic, and age. Michael Albert’s use of visual culture draws the viewer to linger a little longer and ponder the meaning of his work & to make personal connection with the images.

Mr. Albert writes with great insight about his development as an artist & the individual works of art he created. As I was reading, it struck me how straight forward & simple the explanations were, yet they were full of meaning & insight that I would not have gained had he not had written them. I wonder how often I miss out on the depth of my students’ work by not hearing a simple heartfelt explanation of their creation.

An Artist’s America can take your students on a journey into art, economics, ecology, history, social studies, writing, …and beyond! As I said, this book is not just for art teachers (though he does include an instruction page at the end on how to create collage like he does…which could be a great enrichment activity in subject areas other than art)!

Comparing/Contrasting his work to that of Andy Warhol, debating if it is truly “art”, introducing the Gettysburg Address or Declaration of Independence using his work, having students reinterpret important patriotic monuments & symbols, or showing Pi to a math class….this book has something for everyone!

And in case you are wondering….I’m going to be using An Artist’s America to support a 3rd grade unit plan on personal identity in art! I’ve shown this book to several of my 3rd & 4th grade students, and they love it & want to create in this style NOW! To me, that is the best recommendation a book can get…inspire children to learn, grow, and create!

Ted E

Note from Diane: Thanks, Ted for the great review. We look forward to hearing from you again.

Jillian's book about me

  • Posted on April 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Jillian and her mother gave me permission to post her book online. Then Jillian demanded I give her back the original since I’d made a copy. I have since demanded a sequel. And, no, Jillian, I am too young to retire (or retiye as you tell me).

The Librarian by Jillian Patterson. 
Illustrated by Jillian Patterson

One day a Librarian 
retiyed (retired) from a school 
and got a new job and 
her name was Ms Chen.

And then they got a new librarian and 
she was mean. 
She got no good books. 
People did not like it.

Then she got kid(s) books but it 
was better a little bit. 
They still did not like it.

and then the librarian was sick. Then 
Ms. Chen came back. 

and the mean librarian never came back. 

I did ask Jillian why the kids weren’t happy when the librarian bought them some books. She told me that the library is nice because the librarian teaches them, not because there are books.

Out of the mouths of babes!  Thanks, Jillian. I will treasure my scans. Now may I please have my printed book back?

Who benefits from scholarships?

  • Posted on April 22, 2008 at 5:29 PM

Why should you care about donating money to scholarship funds and bashes? Who gets those scholarships and what do they give back? Well…. I did and I’m trying to give back!

I received a David H. Clift Scholarship from ALA 20 years ago for $3000. It paid my entire tuition for the University of Iowa M.A. L.I.S. program. I worked as a research/teaching assistant to cover all the other expenses like books and making photocopies. I was able to go to graduate school two weeks after earning my B.A. because someone endowed the David H. Clift Scholarship.

If I had not won the scholarship, I would not have become a librarian immediately after earning my B.A.  I came from a low-income family (5 people with less than $15,000 total income) and my parents couldn’t contribute. I often joke that they handed me a roll of quarters when I first went to college and told me to call them when I ran out of laundry money so they could take me home for the weekend to do my laundry. (Mom, don’t blame me when I continue to bring my laundry home.)

I have tried to give back to the profession so that everyone who donates knows how much I appreciated the support then and still now. I have served on state committees for several states, been state association president, chaired Affiliate Assembly, been director-elect for Region 4 AASL, served on various legislative and award committees, and am serving as an ALA councilor. I think more importantly if you need me, I try to help you. I feel like I owe every individual of the 65,000 members of ALA.

I take very seriously the responsibility to help the next person along. I bet you do, too, because you are involved and read professional journals & blogs. Every year I attend the Scholarship Bash at ALA Annual knowing that I’ll have fun and that someone will benefit. But recently I learned that I need to do much more. Some of the scholarships from ALA are endowed so they aren’t receiving  general support. Look, the Clift scholarship hasn’t grown any in 20 years. Try going to library school for 39 hours on $3000 nowadays!!! I wish that I could contribute "something." This fund needs to be doubled.

ALA has a way called giveALA  You can log on and donate directly to scholarships (and other stuff) there. Of course you can donate specifically or generally. You can do it online and know that you are helping someone like me get a start as a librarian.

(Please nobody tell the ALA people that I just ripped the list of scholarships that ALA has from their webpage. Oops! with the council election for executive board, I am one of those people so I guess I will have to beg forgiveness before I even get seated on the board. Hello, Keith? Am I forgiven? Kim, I’m just trying to do my part on raising awareness of the gift I received 20 years ago. I really, really, really want to thank everyone who has ever donated to ALA because I wouldn’t be here today without your help.)

Okay, readers, get out there and connect some person like me with one of these scholarships and let’s train the next generation. Tell me about other scholarships that are out there beyond ALA’s and I will be THRILLED to post them here. Let’s get to work and live up to our reputation as being the donating-est generation.