You are currently browsing the archives for September 2009.
Displaying 1 - 10 of 14 entries.

Capstone Interactive and Pebble Plus

  • Posted on September 30, 2009 at 7:00 AM

Too cool. Nate Swenson journeyed to Nashville to train the MNPS librarians on ways to incorporate Capstone’s Interactive Library (CIL) into standards instruction. We did not focus on simply learning how to click and play — manipulating these interactive books is very intuitive. 

Instead, we had a product overview, explored and learned ways to share our picks, then worked on using CIL in the classroom through model lessons. Readers, you know I love Reader’s Theatre. Nate brought his special glasses just so we could read the Night of the Homework Zombies. MNPS librarian Bonnie was fantastic as the evil genius, but I think Nate’s prop glasses added just the right touch. 

You can go to the website to download a 35 page white paper and review of the research.  There is information for staff and parents available in flyers ready to be copied. Since the interactive books "can be used for homework research, fun individual reading, or for reading with parents at home", we need to get the word out. My ELL students and resource students are particularly enjoying these titles. 

Capstone provides a great deal of training information and suggestions for implementation. Of course, I recommend you have Nate Swenson come out for training because he speaks as a former teacher, librarian, and principal.  He can reach teachers and librarians so they will effectively integrate and use the interactive books. 

 There are currently 206 titles available and the interactive database keeps growing. I can’t wait until Katie Woo shows up. I wonder if all of you go sign up for Capstone’s Interactive Library today, will they hurry up production of Katie Woo? I can’t wait to hear her voice.

Another database that made me wish I was back in an elementary library is Pebble Go. For less than $400 for a site license, students can access this growing database of materials written for the youngest students – K-3. Designed for emergent readers and icon driven, this audio-supported product enables students to access over 220 animals in 3-clicks or less. 

What really impressed me? Two things – the embedded videos in each article and the button to print a citation. I have taught students citing sources so often at the upper grades. I’d love for the students to be aware of sources at a much younger age. Plus having this resource available 24/7 will enable parents to work with students at home. Parents who hesitate about allowing internet access and signing Internet-Use-Agreements can see how these web sources are vital for our student’s learning.

Did you know that PebbleGo has won the Learning Magazine 2010 Teachers’ Choice Award!?! Someone must have gone exploring to discover the educator resources. I hope you’ll take a moment to go to the website and register for a free-trial. Enjoy.

Student Government Project at my school – support the soldiers

  • Posted on September 29, 2009 at 11:48 PM

One morning when I forgot how to say N-O, I agreed to help with the Student Government Association at my school. Actually, I was honored to help Ms T because we need these students to grow up active and involved politically and civic-ally. One of our first projects is collecting items that will be shipped to soldiers to show our support and to cheer them. We talked about how supporting the troops does not mean you support war, but that you care about others. Our next project will be collecting socks and items requested by local nursing homes for the holidays. 

We put together a flyer with a list of items that have been suggested by Soldier’s Angels and the website for gift packages – Operation Military Pride. Check it out and let me know if you want to get involved. 

Here is a photo of two of my favorite soldiers – my sons who happened to run into each other at the D-Fac (Dining Facility) recently in Afghanistan before separating again for their assignments. I wanted to share a message #1 son left me on Facebook:

He wrote that they received their first mail at his FOB last week and he received 10 boxes of books to share. We had researched this and I’d asked the librarian at Ft Bragg about getting our soldiers books. They told me our soldiers could request a book kit from the chaplains and the librarians took his address the weekend before they deployed. 

#1 son shared these books with everyone. He said "John L. Throckmorton Library <sent> omg! 2000 dollars worth of books" He wanted me to pass along <his> and the rest of the company’s gratitude, saying "we also got a TV here and all of its fame was shadowed by the books. Out of the 10 boxes ,only 5 made it to the library (aka chow hall) People were so willing to help me unload them all and get their first picks and the variety was incredible."

Getting his FB message, I called the librarian at Ft Bragg, Philip M Quinones, and left a long voice message of gratitude on behalf of our soldiers. He emailed back that "Ms. Loren Bess is responsible for ensuring that the kit reached your son’s unit" and how exciting it was to hear the books made it to the field. I will be emailing and calling her tomorrow to express more thanks. 

I will continue to let you know about projects and ways to send books & reading materials to soldiers. I sent #2 son a box of graphic novels for older teens and adults. He talks about how it was like Christmas for his unit and everyone continues to read these books over & over again. (They also told him I have better taste in graphic novels than my son does :-) )

My dentist and his staff are saving magazines for me to ship over so the soldiers have a wide variety of materials. One of my teachers and his wife have agreed to give me their personal copy of the magazine Gardens and Guns (don’t ask me because this seems to be geared to the South) which is amazingly well-written. One day he brought the magazine in before his wife had finished reading it and he had to come back to collect it again. 

Operation PaperbackThere are programs out there for you to join to help get books into soldier’s hands. With 185,000 soldiers deployed, they could use some GOOD books. Operation Paperback (see logo on the left). Books for Soldiers (see logo on the left). 
And remember one of my favorites – Soldier’s Angels – for which I have applied to be a Community Team Leader (in my spare time HA HA). 

When I posted a request on the ALA Council listserv, I learned that ALA and their wonderful Librarian Karen Muller maintain ALA Library Fact Sheet 12 on "Sending Books to Needy Libraries: Book Donation Programs." Be sure to scroll down to the bottom. The historical extension of the great WWI books campaign was the development of libraries for military bases, as well as the American Library in Paris (see for more information). 

Adrienne Franco sent me information about Books for Soldiers and Sailors in World War I. I think it’s important to realize that ALA doesn’t collect book donations because there would be prohibitive costs in sorting & sending appropriate materials while disposing of dated, damaged, and inappropriate materials. According to some of the library historians I have spoken with, after ALA’s work in WWI, the libraries on military bases were developed and expanded.  ALA has successfully advocated for funding for federal armed forces libraries and continues to connect people to organizations that there is a roundtable in ALA called the Federal and Armed Forces Libraries Round Table.  

Adrienne Franco found this article in the JSTOR database "Reading between Enemy Lines: Armed Services Editions and World War II" by Christopher P. Loss. The Journal of Military History, Vol. 67, No. 3 (Jul., 2003), pp. 811-834 including this information:

the real source of the ALS’s growth stemmed from the 1942 "Victory Book Campaign" of the American Library Association (ALA). Spearheaded by the ALA and publicized by the Council on Books in Wartime, the nationwide book drive managed to collect approximately ten million hardcover and paperback books on behalf of the ALS.49” Note: ALS standard for Army Library Service" 

I found more information and a great photograph in a pdf file on the ALA website. I simply searched for Victory Book within the pdf file and found a great photograph. I do not speak for ALA and I do not know about all of the history of ALA and their efforts to collect books during previous wars. I have met some wonderful librarians and vendors who have researched these efforts and even visited the ALA archives housed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Just opening this conversation topic has brought interesting responses via email.  Thanks for reading.

Clara Hasbrouck award for Tennessee

  • Posted on September 27, 2009 at 10:39 PM

Many states give their "highest awards" to librarians. The Tennessee Association of School Librarians surprised Allison Roberts with the Clara Hasbrouck award on Friday evening. The picture on the right shows Clara Hasbrouck and Allison Roberts. Clara also presented Allison with Michael Gorman’s book of meditations.
This special award is given to an outstanding individual who has demonstrated dedication and commitment to furthering the cause of school libraries in Tennessee by contributing time, leadership and effort to numerous TASL activities over a period of years

It’s difficult to keep this award a secret (especially when I know), but I think we were able to trick Allison into thinking someone else was getting the award. Check out her face. Does she look surprised? She is so humble and so deserving of recognition. Here are just a few of the recognition points shared about Allison:

Allison served on the prestigious SLMPY committee for AASL to choose the best school library media program of the year.

She has served on Affiliate Assembly for AASL and is the Director of Region IV for AASL. Even when she wasn’t officially serving, she attended nearly every conference and helped represent Tennessee.

Allison has advocated for school libraries at both the Tennessee Library legislative days and the National Library Legislative Days.

Allison has represented TASL and TN at the School Library Journal Summit.

Allison was the Hamilton County teacher of the year for 2007.

Allison planned professional development activities for many summers, usually escorting visitors and coordinating all arrangements across the state.

Allison helped plan and lead the TASL Libraries and Literacy Forum in 2006.

Aren't the Hamilton County Librarians proud of Allison?Allison not only does fundraisers for her school, but she donates her own time to wrap presents at the holidays to earn funds for her students.

Allison tirelessly helps other librarians in Chattanooga and across the state. She has helped librarians automate, catalog, weed, order, organize collections, and plan curriculum. She is a tireless dynamo and an example to us all. 

When Allison was running for Director of Region IV for AASL, this is her simple statement of accomplishments:

"I have been an active member in AASL since Fall of 2003 when I attended my first AASL conference. At the local level I initiated the HELLO monthly meetings for librarians (Hamilton Educational Librarians’ Local Organization). I plan, schedule, and facilitate each meeting. These meetings provide the opportunity for librarians to share ideas, see what is new in children’s literature, meet authors, etc. I am also the elementary contact person on the Hamilton County Librarians’ Steering Committee. I help coordinate, organize, plan, and facilitate all library in-service programs. I am the liaison between the librarians and Central Office. At the state level I have been planning professional development opportunities for Tennessee librarians since 2005. I coordinate two workshops each year. Each workshop is offered at least three times in order for librarians across the state to have the opportunity to attend without having to travel very far."

The 2008 award went to Scot Smith who has voluntarily maintained the entire TASL website for many years in addition to teaching at the University of Tennessee and running his school library. Scot is Librarian Media Specialist Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge, TN; Lecturer–College of Communication and Information
University of Tennessee–Knoxville; Webmaster–Tennessee Association of School Librarians; Webmaster–Oak Ridge Schools.

I am trying to recall of the recipients’ names so far. I can name Patty Williams, Brenda Moriarty, Carol Burr, and …  Any help here?

Blame it on Alyxandra Harvey

  • Posted on September 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM

I just cannot get everything done and I need to blame someone. Today it’s Alyxandra Harvey and her new book Hearts at Stake: House of DrakeHearts At Stake (The Drake Chronicles). Even though it’s not going to be published until January 2010, I loved this title so much that I couldn’t put it down. Now, I cannot wait for the next book in the Drake Chronicles to be released. In fact, I think my friend Shirley and I need to travel to Alyxandra Harvey’s farmhouse in Canada  to help her research her characters. She must know some pretty amazing men to write such a romantic teen vampire book. 

Alyxandra Harvey sounds like a very interesting author and my kind of person. When she is not writing, she is a belly dancer and jewelry-maker. I have always wanted to learn how to belly dance. I love jewelry. I enjoy traveling in Canada. Sounds like a road-trip to me.

My students are bargaining with me to get sneak peeks at this book so I’ll have to just give you a taste now and full banquet blogging later this fall (closer to publication). Let’s give this to the students who have grown past Twilight and don’t want quite so sexually-explicit titles as some vampire authors write. Hearts At Stake sets the action and fast-moving plot in one week of time as Solange prepares to turn 16, tranform into a vampire, possibly die, and also possibly cause a revolution among the entire vampire clans. Told in two voices – that of human friend Lucy and of Solange – this title keeps you on edge and wondering. 

As I reached the end of this novel, I was relieved that Alyxandra Harvey has created a world with many other characters to follow over the next several years. I have my ideas for plot and character and I found myself truly caring about the characters involved. Quite a debut accomplishment and I can’t wait until you read it, too, so we can chat.

A good picture in a nonfiction book

  • Posted on September 23, 2009 at 11:25 PM

I wanted to share some interesting new titles from Capstone where the pictures are vitally important. 

(Look, Look Again)

Nashville is a great city – actors/musicians/literature

  • Posted on September 23, 2009 at 10:21 PM

Where else can you suddenly pop into the Listening Room Cafe and hear/see John Schneider? My friend Krys Spain Midgett is the publisher of Strum Magazine. Instead of curling up with more work afterschool, we slipped into the Listening Room Cafe to hear a performance before John’s larger fan event later in the evening. I do live in Music City, USA, so it’s time to enjoy my surroundings. 

When I text messaged my friends, they showed their ages. Some knew Dukes of Hazard, some knew Smallville, some knew Nip/Tuck, and some his music: "I’ve Been Around Enough to Know", "Country Girls", "What’s a Memory Like You (Doing in a Love Like This)" and "You’re the Last Thing I Needed Night of the Twisters Tonight".  

One of my favorite movie roles that John Schneider starred in (and that you might not remember) was in Night of the Twisters. I love that book by Ivy Ruckman and the movie. I’m a disaster loving reader, not experiencer. 

Wonder who I’ll meet tomorrow at the TASL conference. Stay tuned.

Afraid of the water? You will be after reading this series by Bearport

  • Posted on September 21, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Portuguese Man-of-War: Floating Misery by Natalie Lunis. Bearport Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-59716-946-2. Original Price $22.61 School/Library Price $16.96. 2010 

The books in this series Afraid of the Water cram 24 pages of fantastic photos with fascinating facts. Intended for grades 3+ with an interest level of 1-6, this is a wonderful series for elementary and middle-schools. It’s going to meet research needs but more importantly it’s going to hook those jaded students who are tired of researching sharks, dolphins, and whales, and who need to be surprised. You are going to receive demands for more, so you’d better order the entire set. 
Nonfiction Monday
While unpacking books one day, I saw the cover of Portuguese Man-Of-War and immediately dropped everything I was doing to read. I just didn’t know much about this creature except that it was deadly and near Australia. After reading it, I discovered the Portuguese man-of-war drifts all over the world. Seeing the cover gave me a shiver and I had to wonder if the photo was altered. Was a person really in the water near this creature? 

Bearport Publishing does such an amazing job of matching photos to their text that I always check out the photo credits on the copyright page to try to learn more. James O’Connor is the photo researcher for this text and I salute him! The design team has created a science nonfiction book that is compelling and informative. The narrative is straightforward and simple enough for elementary students, yet compelling for middle school interests.

The information in Portuguese Man-Of-War stayed with me and I looked for opportunities to share my new insights into this creature that is NOT a jellyfish. I also read Blue-Ringed Octopus: Small by Deadly by Natalie Lunis ISBN: 978-1-59716-944-8. Did you know this fact?

 "An octopus doesn’t just change its color. It can also make its skin bumpy to match the texture of its surroundings.?

Imagine how excited I was to see this deadly octopus at an aquarium the next day. I confirmed that there is no known antidote to its poison and I was left to wonder how anyone cares for this creature in an aquarium or zoo. How do they stay safe?

Last week I was able to visit with some librarians as part of the ARSL Annual Conference. ARSL is the Association of Rural and Small Librarians.

 They were meeting in Gatlinburg, TN, (vacation dream place) and had an opening Library Luau at the Ripley’s Aquarium. What a fantastic evening! If you are planning a library conference, you should have an event at the aquarium, too. Good food at 3 stations – appetizers while listening to a band, a buffet where you can sit outdoors and stare at the mountains or the tourists, and a dessert bar with a chocolate fountain. 
While driving there, my BFF from college Shirley and I saw a sign saying this was America’s #1 Aquarium. Being skeptics, we decided we’d have to judge ourselves.
After reading every sign, participating in every interactive aspect, viewing the feeding of the sharks and sting rays, petting the sting rays, and riding a moving sidewalk through the sea closer to sharks and sawfish than any person should ever be, we have decided this was the most amazing aquarium we have ever been to, also. It has our votes.

Here I found some unusual looking rocks. But when I was pointing and asking questions about them, they suddenly all jumped up and swam away. We were in the exhibit on how sea animals camouflage themselves. Seems they fooled me. Hmm? Fooled by fish that act like rocks? I don’t think I’ll be bragging about that one.
The only bad part of the experience for me was discovering that there are these terrible beasts in the ocean called Japanese giant spider crabs. Rounding the corner and seeing these enormous things frightened me so much I couldn’t move. Shirley had to guide me out of the display. I’m not joking! I immediately decided Aldo Leopald was wrong and that there are some creatures on this planet that shouldn’t exist – giant crabs that look and act like spiders being top of the list. Good thing I wasn’t in charge of their feeding and care! I’m not the only one to be shocked and amazed as you can see by Vince Lewis’ website. Where are the books on these beasts?
These beasts looked at me menancingly. I swear it because I went back 3 more times to try to face my fears. I got close enough to read that they can grow up to 12 feet long when one climbed on top of another to wave his claws at me horrifically. I tried one final time while we were taking pictures to show you, readers, but it crawled towards me and I just had to give up and go home. I studied the map for where they are located and decided I never need to go into the sea near Japan. I will let them exist as long as it’s never close to me again. They can have their territory and I will stay in mine. Argh! Wait, I just read that they frightened people once inland in Japan. Weren’t they also the cause for the demise of some villains in a Japanese samurai book I read this spring? I’m going to have to go back and re-read that chapter.

If you look closely at this picture, you can see the diver in there with his arms wrapped around his body. He is surrounded by rays that are nibbling food from his pouches. The sharks are in there with him. I marveled at how sting rays’ mouths are shaped. While we tried to pet them, a spotted sting ray splashed me playfully and I jumped back. The attendant laughed so hard. I think I’d better read the rest of this series so I know what to be afraid of in the water, and what not to fear. Do you think growing up in a landlocked state and being a child of the Jaws era has had an effect on me? I do.

ABDO Checkerboard Cool Art book for Middle Schoolers???

  • Posted on September 18, 2009 at 11:17 AM

Cool Collage: The Art of Creativity for Kids! by Anders Hanson is part of ABDO’s Checkerboard How-To Library Cool Art, copyright 2009. At first glance I dismissed this title as strictly elementary – albeit an excellent resource for elementary.  Then something unusual happened. While my art teacher, Keene Slaton, was waiting for me, I asked him to glance at this title and give me his opinion. He loved it and wanted to share why you should have it in your middle school collections as well as elementary.

This 32-page title is crammed with interesting facts and suggestions. The activities will appeal to boys as well as girls – particularly the "Collage Battles." The historical aspect of collages and Picasso and Braque’s  influence on the public seeing collage as art is important to art classes. Did you know that the word collage comes from the French word coller, which means "to glue" and that collage has been around for thousands of years? 

Keene was impressed with the good technical compositions of this title and it’s contempary approaches – especially the "Funny Faces project." The "puppy love" project for animals will appeal to younger students. The "landscape project" will appeal to older students and I believe Keene will be doing this project soon with students. Perhaps we’ll collaborate with the geography teachers.
I have taught collage to elementary students after reading books by Eric Carle and Leo Lionni. I could have benefitted from this title then. Upon Keene’s recommendation, I went back and really read Cool Collage. I agree that there is quite a bit of substance to this deceptively simple looking title. My middle schoolers are already reading over my shoulder and asking when they can check it out.

Now we’d like to see the rest of the series including:

Cool Calligraphy
Cool Collage
Cool Drawing
Cool Painting
Cool Printmaking
Cool Sculpture

Doug Achterman's Haves, Halves, and Have-Nots dissertation

  • Posted on September 14, 2009 at 10:25 PM

"Any school or district that decides not to invest in school library programs must account for that decision in terms of the public charge of equitable access to a quality education for all public school students."

Wow! Talk about a powerful statement. Where did I read this? It wasn’t the banner headline, but was in a paragraph on the 208th of 238 pages of a pdf file I read for fun tonight. Thanks to Connie Williams for sharing the link to Douglas L. Achterman’s dissertation "HAVES, HALVES, AND HAVE-NOTS: SCHOOL LIBRARIES AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN CALIFORNIA" for the PhD program for the University of North Texas.

Doug’s study was fascinating and made me so grateful for the University of Iowa education grad school professors who let me skip Statistics to jump right into the Educational Research class where I was able to see how terms like "Significant correlations", "multiple regression analyses", "bivariate correlations", and "literature review" would matter. 

I strongly urge you to take advantage of Doug’s research study being available online from the University of North Texas website.

Help Libraries in Taiwan damaged by typhoon

  • Posted on September 12, 2009 at 8:41 PM

I am sharing this information distributed by the Chinese American Librarians Association. I lived in Taiwan before and experienced a minor typhoon, so I was concerned when I learned of the recent devastation. Perhaps you may not have heard about CALA’s efforts to help the libraries of Taiwan. Take a look at these photos from’s The Big Picture.

Xudong Jin, President of the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) – an ALA affiliate and Associate Director of Libraries and Head of Technical Services for Ohio Wesleyan University Library, sent the following information:

"As you know, Typhoon Morakot slammed into China’s east coast <August 8th>, just hours after nearly 1 million people evacuated the area. It earlier lashed Taiwan with torrential rains that caused the island’s worst flooding in 50 years and left dozens missing and feared dead.

As of Saturday, August 15th, more than 500 people have died in floods and mudslides unleashed in southern Taiwan by typhoon Morakot. It is the most severe damage to the island in half a century."

Typhoon Morakot was the strongest typhoon in 50 years and "the accompanying monstrous floods ravaged the south of Taiwan."

CALA has been communicating with Dr. Joyce Chao-chen Chen, Executive Director of the Library Association of China ( Taiwan ) in connection with this disaster. She sent inventory reports on the libraries that have been totally destroyed or heavily damaged by Typhoon Morakot and the floods. No library colleagues were injured. However, the extensive damages to and losses suffered by libraries were overwhelming.

Damages and losses to libraries are:

  • Among the 150 public libraries, many were heavily damaged and one public library was completely destroyed.
  • More than 45 schools and their libraries were heavily damaged. Among them 14 schools together with their libraries were completely destroyed.
  • Losses of ruined books, materials, computers and equipment, furniture and book mobiles are estimated at US$1,560,000.00. These figures do not include ruined buildings.
  • You can help by kindly sending your check payable to the Order of the Chinese American Librarians Association or CALA, and send it to:

    Haipeng Li

    CALA Executive Director
    Associate Director
    John Cotton Dana Library
    Rutgers University-Newark
    185 University Ave.
    Newark , NJ 07102

The committee sends word that: CALA will send donors an official “Thank You Letter” and a CALA receipt via US Mail for your records. CALA is an IRS 501 (c) (3) Non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible. We want to ensure our donors that their donations will be 100-percent used to help Taiwan libraries Damaged/Destroyed by the 88 Typhoon Morakot.

There is an old saying in Chinese which translates into English as, “seeing people drown is as if I am drowning” or “I feel the pain seeing our colleagues suffer”. In the spirit of helping Taiwan libraries, CALA President Xudong Jin has appointed a Taskforce on Helping Taiwan Libraries Destroyed/Damaged by the 88 Typhoon Morakot. The goal is to raise funds to help libraries that have been destroyed or heavily damaged by the strongest winds, storms, and floods ever seen during the last 50 years.

If it is more convenient for you to pay via PayPal, please visit the Taskforce’s Webpage  for more information about the disaster and click on the button “Donate” that will link to CALA’s PayPal account. Because PayPal charges a fee, CALA would encourage you to send them a check for your donation. 

CALA Taskforce on Helping Taiwan Libraries Destroyed/Damaged by the 88 Typhoon Marakot  is working with the Library Association of China (Taiwan) to distribute 100% of the needed donations CALA receives. Please encourage your colleagues and friends to help rebuild destroyed or heavily damaged libraries in Taiwan .

For CALA’s humanitarian work, please see an example from the 2008 CALA reports on helping colleagues and on rebuilding libraries in the earthquake disaster areas of China . These reports are available at the end of CALA’s Webpage. .