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Exploring other blogs while leaving comments

  • Posted on January 15, 2013 at 12:13 AM

As part of the 2013 Comment Challenge I continue to visit other blogs and leave comments. Today I checked out

  • Carrie @ Storypatch’s post for Perfect Picture Book Friday – Bringing Down the Moon includes a link toA science lesson on how distance affects perception of size:
  • Maria@ Once Upon A Story shares a post about why or more exactly how she does not Read to her baby. While I appreciate her acknowledging that language is acquired through more than the 20-minute lap sit, I see far more avid readers who recall a loving family member who read to them while they were little. I loved reading to my sons as they were growing up, but it seems they don’t recall the many storytimes as much as I do. If I could change anything, I’d go back in time and read even more.
  • When I popped into Donna L Martin‘s website, I found some unique resources for writer’s. As I stumbled around the site, I discovered the blog and was soon lost in exploring various links and experiencing “being a writer” again. This blog inspired me to suddenly journal again. Hmm! Dangerous. And I love it.
  • Sarah Albee blogs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday about the intersection of history and science. Her  favorite topics are the history of sanitation, funky fashions, and insects. I love the quirkiness of truth in history. After reading about diethylene glycol, I had to go check all my hair and cosmetic products.
  • Miss Marple’s Musings shared another excellent puppy book from Candlewick Press – Charley’s First Night. Written by Amy Hest and Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury this looks like a lovely title to share.

2013 Comment Challenge

  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Who have I visited and commented on lately during the 2013 Comment Challenge?

  1. Madigan @ Madigan Reads
  2. Lori Norman @ StoryQuill: A Writer’s Blog
  3. EMU’s Debuts which really helped me appreciate how long it takes to get published
  4. Redpeffer‘s blog on everything parent from craft to nature to education and anything else that takes her fancy.
  5. Pragmatic Mom with Education matters covering parenting, children’s literature, and education. Loved the post on Girls Who Dare to Fly.
  6. Storied Cities reviews of decidedly urban illustrated and chapter books for children. Loved Laundry Day and noticed it was on several bloggers “best” lists.
  7. Green Bean TeenQueen A Teen and Tween Librarian’s thoughts on books, reading and adventures in the library.
  8. Cathy Mealey reviewed A Sailor’s Life for Me! by Richard Platt. Illustrated by Stephen Biesty. USS Constitution Museum, 2012. Suitable for: Ages 7-12 with the Themes/Topics: Nautical history, shipboard life, USS Constitution, War of 1812. Hmmm! It’s hard to locate good titles for the War of 1812.
  9. Visiting Myra, Fats, Iphigene @ Gathering Books was dangerous since I couldn’t resist signing up for the The Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge.
  10. Perogies & Gyoza continues their adventures in books & bilingualism with their picturebook top 10 list. I am embarrassed whenever I see how many books I haven’t read yet. How about you?

What is the 2013 Comment Challenge?  For the next 21 days visit and leave comments on five different kid lit blogs daily. The kidlitosphere lists gives lots of blogs to check out. Thanks to Lee Wind, M. Ed. the Official Blogger For the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators and the Mother Reader blog for sponsoring this challenge.

Maybe I Will

  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 3:51 PM

MaybeIWillMAYBE I WILL by Laurie Gray. Luminis Books (, March 2013.  Ages 13+ ($14.95 Paperback – ISBN 978-1-935462-70-5, $26.95 Hardcover – ISBN 978-1-935462-71-2, $9.95 eBook – ISBN 978-1-935462-72-9)

Publisher’s Description:  It’s not about sex. It’s about how one secret act of violence changes everything—how best friends can desert you when you need them most, how nobody understands. It’s about the drinking and stealing and lying and wondering who you can trust. It’s about parents and teachers, police officers and counselors—all the people who are supposed to help you, but who may not even believe you. It’s about how suddenly all of your hopes and dreams can vanish, and you can find yourself all alone, with nothing and no one. Your only choice is to end it all or to start over…and all you can think is Maybe I Will. 

Reviews: Mike Mullin, award-winning author of ASHFALL and ASHEN WINTER wrote about Maybe I will: “In MAYBE I WILL, author Laurie Gray deals with a difficult topic in a thoughtful, nuanced, and realistic way. A pinch of humor and dash of Shakespeare add flavor to what otherwise might be an overly heavy stew. MAYBE I WILL belongs on teens’ reading lists and bookshelves alongside classics of its type such as Laurie Halse Anderson’s SPEAK and Cheryl Rainfield’s SCARS.”

About the Author: Laurie Gray presents a compelling picture of the realities of sexual assault in MAYBE I WILL, drawing on her years of experience as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, dealing with crimes against children. The twist in the story is that we never know for sure if the victim is a boy or a girl, and we realize that it doesn’t matter, because it’s not about sex.

Round to it

Diane’s Notes: I was scared to read this book and kept putting off getting a round-to-it. I received a request to review Maybe I Will during a time when my world was crashing down. I have been a victim of sexual assault and abuse. I have been in the situation of keeping my worries to myself and wondering if I could handle the depression while trying to hold myself together and pretend to be “good” – just so my family and friends wouldn’t worry. I didn’t want to be seen as just a victim, nor did I want to be seen as a problem that other people would have to deal with. I was even afraid that if I read Maybe I Will, that I might consider giving up. 

I should have trusted the author Laurie Gray and publicist Rebecca Grose. While there is a sexual assault, it is not  graphically over-described. Suicide is not the entire focus of the story. Alcoholism is not the ending of one’s life.  Friends not being there for you is simply another obstacle to survive. The character has to learn to cope, survive, and adjust.

Readers will learn new techniques for surviving the teen years and life’s unfair, unjust events. Maybe I Will is an essential purchase for libraries with young adults requesting books like 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, A Child Called It, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones . 

The hardest part of reading Maybe I Will was that I had read the twist – that we never know for sure if the victim is a boy or a girl – and that I spent the entire first reading looking for clues to prove the character was one or the other. Pulling that perspective off was a dramatic success. By having the character almost gender neutral, this title will be easier to put in both male and female reader’s hands. While some said they were convinced it was a girl because they were female readers, if someone found themselves relating too closely, they could pretend the character was a member of the opposite sex and build in distance.

Perhaps the best parts of Maybe I Will were the poems and the literary references interwoven. How many teen titles link Shakespeare, Peter Pan, and Amazing Grace? The main character uses a journal to write  through the process of discovering the answer to the question “What is character?” The poems are full of angst and speak to teens – particularly to 8th and 9th graders with stanzas like:

Such a bitter seed I swallowed.

No one saw, and no one knew.

I buried it inside myself

Where it took root and grew.

or –

I feel like I have swallowed a black hole.

The cold and empty darkness never ends.

Emotions trample down my weary soul,

No longer trusting any of my friends.

Maybe I Will leaves the reader with hope. There is hope, there are ways to survive the bad, and there are people out there to help. The reality is that the bad is not always sufficiently punished in our legal system. But Maybe I Will may be the title that helps a teen open up and tell someone, rather than continue to suffer in silence. 


Diane’s blog on Cinder by Marissa Meyer

  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Marissa Meyer should be thrilled. Cinder was chosen one of the top ten books of 2012 on these lists:cinder-117x162

Check out a trailer for  Cinder here. I have to admit that I kept setting the book Cinder down intending to get around to it. When Shela wrote her blog post January 8th, I realized that I needed to seize the time to read Cinder. Now that I have read Cinder, Marissa Meyer is on my short list of  authors writing YA fairy tale versions (including Margaret Peterson Haddix, Shannon Hale, Gail Carson Levine, Vivian VandeVelde, Robin McKinley, and Alex Flinn). Marissa Meyer’s biographical information shares how much she enjoyed fairy tales growing up and how this translated into her writing fanfiction for SailorMoon.

Growing up I loved Beauty and the Beast because it seemed more realistic for Beauty to gradually realize the Beast had changed to something beautiful underneath. Maybe I didn’t like Cinderella because the Disney version had a blonde star. I couldn’t relate because I wasn’t blonde and I thought she relied on others too much to make her dreams come true. In fact I have always preferred the Kukla, Fran, and Ollie show Three Nuts for Cinderella better than the original versions.

Three Nuts for Cinderella (Tri oríšky pro popelku) is from Czechoslovakia, 1973. You can click here to watch highlights of this updated version of the classic tale, with the fairy godmother replaced by three magic hazelnuts that help Cinderella’s dreams come true. You can learn more about that version here. When I first read Anita Lobel’s Princess Furball, I related it to Three Nuts for Cinderella.

Marissa Meyer’s version has helped me rediscover Cinderella. Adults, young adults, and middle grade students will appreciate this 387 page futuristic sci-fi version. I could relate to the strengths of  Linh Cinder and her work ethic. With the setting in New Beijing 126 years after WWIV, there were Chinese aspects of the story providing flavor yet the story was universal and global. While racial differences weren’t emphasized, the new discriminations revolved around the status of 100% humans, androids, cyborgs, and Lunars. Old enemies like the plague still exist.

Cinder was able to accomplish unusual tasks because she seemed almost invisible due to her status. She was a strong character who refused to continue to let bad things happen to her by others. The growth in her character as she learns more about her past, her body, and her capabilities makes this a wonderful title for coming-of-age stories.

The presence of good vs evil characters was more distinct than in some modern versions so the reader knew who to cheer for throughout. This is a safe YA story that tells a fascinating first tale of four about the Lunar Chronicles. The author did not have to resort to sex, violence, or swearing to tell a good story and I appreciate that.

When I first handed the book to Shela, I wasn’t sure if the title would be appropriate as a read-aloud. I was glad she took it with her in audio format to test it out. When Shela wrote her blog, I was hooked. Having read it myself, I know exactly whose hands I want to place this in next. The hard part will be prying it out of my fingers as I wait for the second book in the series – Scarlet. Scarlet_final_USA-Today-117x162

For boys and girls who like technology, problem-solving, mysteries, and strong characters, Cinder is an excellent choice. Now I’m off to see how quickly I can get my hands on Scarlet. I was able to download the first five chapters as a preview, but I’ll be checking for the Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends booth at ALA Midwinter.

One more aspect of Cinder that endears me to the author and series is that it was originally written as part of NaMoWriMo.

Shela’s blog on Cinder by Marissa Meyer

  • Posted on January 13, 2013 at 12:18 PM

cinder-117x162Shela Crisler blogs about Cinder by Marissa Meyer today. You can email her at She can’t wait for the next books in the series.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

There are several things that I like about the line above. I like the name Marissa. Connecting it with the tomboyish girl my oldest son has been friends with for years. Meyer is already a famous name from the Twilight series. They’re probably of no relation, but once you finish all of Stephanie Meyer’s books I think moving over to Marissa Meyer’s will be a good idea. Now as for the title, you hear Cinder and what do you think first? Being old enough to remember Disney’s Cinderella coming out and young enough at heart to have seen several adaptations…I grabbed this book from the pile to see if I was correct.

Backing up…I first saw this book when the elementary librarian unloaded her treasures after returning from a convention. As she laid them out, I made piles of my own interest levels. So, in looking at the cover, a foot in a shiny red heel with the faint look of mechanics inside the foot, and scanning the back I determined this was an adaptation of Cinderella. However, I didn’t take the book right away. It was at one of the public libraries where I found the book on audio. After checking the audio version out, I rushed to claim the hard cover book. I was itching to listen to the book, but hesitant to listen in front of my 12 and 8 year old boys. I had no idea what language or context would be in the book. Finally when we were going on a trip, I put the first cd in. Both boys were in the backseat. Both had their own story to read or listen too. That didn’t last long; both were intrigued by the story from the beginning as was I. Now in my opinion the person reading for the audio book can make or ruin the story for you. This one was done well. We listened every time I was driving. When we were so close to the end none of us could stand it. We brought it inside and just sat listening.

What’s interesting about this version of Cinderella are several things. First it is set in New Beijing after World War IV. Cinder is poor and treated badly by a mother figure that is not her own. She has two sisters; one likes her, the other doesn’t. Later we find out there are more people left on earth outside of New Beijing along with special people on the moon. Cinder is part cyborg. She has mechanical parts including a foot and the ability to access news broadcasts in her mind. Although Cinder is very talented with mechanics and electronics, being cyborg isn’t an accepted aspect for her. Cinder feels cyborgs are lower class people. So, she hides her cyborg parts from the prince. Her life becomes even more difficult when she finds out she is Lunar (not originally from Earth). Of course, she falls for the prince. This book takes you on some twists and turns. Not your typical Cinderella romance. There isn’t a fairy godmother, but a little android with a romantic side wants to help. As we were listening for the happily ever after, we were shocked to hear Cinder thrown in jail. Next thing we knew the story ended.

Thank goodness for the internet. I was immediately looking for info on this book online. I hadn’t noticed the small print of “Book One” and “The Lunar Chronicles”. So, that was both good and bad news. There is a second book Scarlett. Scarlett is a version of Little Red Riding Hood. Now I’ll get to read another version of a famous fairy tale. The twist is Cinder will continue her adventures in this book as well. Cinder, Scarlett, and a wolf…I have no idea what can happen there. The bad news is I have to wait until February 2013 to find out. Groan!

This just in, Cress will be out in 2014 and features Rapunzel as well; followed by Winter in 2015 to include Snow White with Cinder. Come on Marissa Meyer get those books out there!

Rescue animals – That Cat Can’t Stay

  • Posted on January 12, 2013 at 5:18 PM

Cat_cover_That Cat Can't StayThat Cat Can’t Stay by Thad Krasnesky. Illustrated by David Parkins. Flashlight Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780979974656

That Cat Can’t Stay is on my list of fun rhyming read-alouds for elementary students. I love sharing this title, but never stopped to think about it in context of rescue animals until I started collecting books about rescues and helping find homes for animals.

Flashlight Press had sent out a newsletter reminding us that many families give puppies and kittens for Christmas gifts, but the thrill wanes and the animals end up in shelters. My beloved Lucy girl from a shelter had a note on her that “the kids don’t want her no more.” It broke our hearts. Fifteen years later we still love our Lucy and laugh when she stands outside wondering which direction is in. Fortunately my son’s German Shepherd Gabby goes out to herd her back in the house while she snaps and argues the entire time. Dogs and cats are lifetime commitments, not just spur of the moment gifts.

The publisher states:  “That Cat Can’t Stay is a wacky story about a family with a pet-adoption dilemma. Mom keeps bringing home stray cats, while Dad comes up with ridiculous reasons why each one can’t stay. Dad grudgingly gives in – 5 times! – but finally finds his perfect pet at the end.”

One of the best parts of this book is finding all the cat-aspects in the illustrations. I was amazed to read snippets from so many reviews and blogs here I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. When my new Promethean board is set up, I’ll be using the sneak peak in pdf form from the publisher to share with my students.

Have you used this title for conflict resolution? Mom always seems to get her way despite Dad’s protests and complaints. Each time she brings home a stray needy cat, she acknowledges Dad’s concerns, states what could happen to the cat if they don’t take it in, and then waits for Dad to give-in. Each time he thinks its temporary, but those cats gather around him just like real cats will rub against people who hate cats (Is it to irritate them?). Those cats seem to be winning dad over, but he does take action in the end to show his preferences.

I’ve paired That Cat Can’t Stay with the poem Cat! by Eleanor Farjeon  before. Look for the blog posts on rescue animals coming this year. There are some wonderful titles and I promise to give you tear-jerker alerts when necessary.

Award Winning Books Challenge

  • Posted on January 11, 2013 at 8:11 PM

awb2013_purpleI officially declare myself a participant in the 2013  Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. Fortunately, as long as I read titles from Junior Library Guild and blog about them, I have a really good shot at reading the most current award winning books out there. To participate you do not have to only read 2013 titles, but I love making every challenge more difficult. The challenge runs from January 1st to December 30th, 2013. There are  four levels of participation:

  • Level 1 (10 books or less) – Bronze Medal
  • Level 2 (11-25 books) – Silver Medal
  • Level 3 (26-35 Books) – Gold Medal
  • Level 4 (over 35 books) – Platinum Award

Guess which level I intend to hit? You’ve got it. I’m going for Platinum. Go try it yourself. Even if we only reach Gold, we’ll be better bloggers, teachers, librarians, etc.

Lady Hahn and Her Seven Friends

  • Posted on January 4, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Lady Hahn and her Seven Friends by Yumi Heo. Christy Ottaviano Books / Henry Holt and Company, 2012. ISBN 978-0-8050-4127-9. $16.99LadyHahn

Lady Hahn and her Seven Friends is a lovely picture book  to enhance your multicultural folktale collection, This Korean retelling of a seamstress and her seven tools for sewing provides a message on getting along while giving us a glimpse into aspects of sewing. The question of “who is most important?” occurs often in literature. This classical tale from the 1800s is retold swiftly with subtle touches that will stimulate questions about sewing.

The illustrations and text use a literary device teachers often request, but I get confused whether to call this anthropomorphism or personification. The tools of ruler, scissors, needle, thread, thimble, flatiron, and iron are feminized, talk, and portrayed with human physical features. They talk, have distinct personalities, and their feelings can be hurt. Technically which term should I use? Regardless, I am adding this to my list of teaching texts for literary devices.

The font and the design of text make reading aloud easy. The illustrations incorporate Korean fabric patterns with sweet, subtle details. The double-paged spread showing Lady Hahn coming to realize she needs her friends is sophisticated and worth careful attention. The author studied graphic design and this pleasing rendition joins my shelf with one of my favorites –  The Green Frogs: A Korean Folk Tale.

The terms of flatiron and iron can be confusing to non-sewers, so be prepared with some photos or real artifacts. I appreciate this title for the use of tools which is commonly integrated in second grade education. Often “tools” is related to hammers, nails, and saws rather than more broadly being linked to all the tools necessary to accomplish a task. STEM schools can utilize this title when talking about technology.

Review Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls

  • Posted on January 1, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen, PhD. A Snap book from Capstone Press. 2012. part of the Girls Science Club series including:

  • Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls
  • Cool Biology Activities for Girls
  • Cool Physics Activities for Girls
  • Cool Engineering Activities for Girls
Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls cover

Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls cover

Shela Crisler (the current PTO president, a former engineer, and a parent volunteer in the library who puts in more hours than some teachers) and I unpacked books from Capstone Press to preview. Shela picked up Cool Engineering Activities for Girls while I picked up Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls. We looked at each other and both commented on the aspect “for Girls.” Hey! We’re girls. We love science and engineering. Why does this say “for girls?” Is there another series out there of Cool Engineering Activities for Boys? Is this real science or pseudoscience? We decided to both take our books home to read and compare on this blog.

Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls includes ten hands-on activities with “insider info” on each that explains the scientific principles which apply. The bright design is open with very readable and approachable text. Photo illustrations feature girls of middle school age so the interest truly will extend from grades 3-8.

The activities are appropriate for elementary and middle school interest and include many experiments that my STEM school had already planned as part of our curriculum this year. I can’t wait to see the teachers’ faces when I present them with this title. We use the Science NSRC kits and the Engineering is Elementary Kits in our science integration throughout the curriculum. Some of these activities are explored in the kits, but none of them explain and extend the learning in such an exciting way as this series. I wish this set had been available when I was younger. For all my former students who asked me for titles like this before publishers created them, I wish I could hand you each a copy.

STEM schools will naturally want to purchase the entire set. It is essential that more school and public libraries carry titles like this. They walk the line between the craft titles with their practicality and informational scientific titles. It’s an opportunity to inspire a new generation of female (and male) scientists.

My favorite aspect of science is chemistry followed closely by geology and physics. I am an avid reader of anything chemical and constantly seeking titles. After reading Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls, I cannot wait to purchase the complete set and to advocate for more being published. We need geology, botany, astronomy, meteorology, statistics, forensics,… there is so much more to include.

The Capstone website includes reviews for Cool Chemistry Activities for Girls from Science Books & Films – Deborah Stevens, Musselman High School, Warrenton, VA, and Laura McConnell with Library Media Connection.  Junior Library Guild includes a review of Cool Biology Activities for Girls on their website for members only. That title was part of their Science set for grades 6-8. I was happy to see this series noted so highly by JLG.

When I clicked the publisher’s website to seek related nonfiction and related fiction titles, I was disappointed. There are not enough titles out there to sustain a beginner’s interest in chemistry. The related nonfiction titles were primarily heavier-text middle school biography titles and were not designed to draw in new science enthusiasts as these Girls Science Club titles do. While the title Marie Curie mariecurieis an essential middle school purchase, it does not appeared designed to attract my students to extend their interest in elementary school.

The related fiction included lower level graphic titles but the relationship was misleading. One title was to scientists playing rock, paper, scissors. Another to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde which at best could lead to a discussion of science and ethics. The third was to Buzz Beaker and the Speed Secret which describes an invention to make skis faster. All of these are good titles on their own, but they won’t be excellent matches to EXTEND the excitement of discovering chemistry.

I appreciate the links, but, librarians, we have far to go to encourage more publishing efforts of science topics for women. In fact, I’m going to email Capstone tonight and suggest that they link some of their other series to this title like the Kitchen Science books including Science Experiments That Fizz and Bubble: Fun Projects for Curious Kids, Gross Guides series, and of course the Monster Science titles. All of those would have made much more sense if included in the related titles section. Should I assume that Gross and Monster are the answer to my search for “Cool Chemistry Activities for Boys?”  Do I even need to step on my soapbox and start ranting about the equality of the sexes in scientific exploration and research? Or that I have many boys who would also do these “girl” experiments, too? I hope boys will take time to participate in these scientific activities.

I know there are many more exciting biographies of scientists, including chemists that we should be sharing with students. Keep reading this blog and I’ll bring you more titles. You are always welcome to share your ideas, too. I need you to help me communicate my love of science and chemistry with younger students.

Bejeezers uses Squidoo to share lenses like the Top 10 Chemistry Books for Kids which includes a great quiz. For adults who love chemistry and would like to explore the significance of how scientific knowledge relates to history, be sure to pick up a copy of Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History. The Crabtree series “Why Chemistry Matters” was one of my previous middle school picks. I’m hoping others continue to develop more STEM titles for elementary and middle school interests.

Enjoying a new e-reader in your house? Be sure to add Chemistry for Everyone: A Helpful Primer for High School or College Chemistry to your list of ebooks to read. It’s currently available on the kindle for $5.99 but periodically shows up for a discount. It’s worth reading as an elementary teacher because it reminds us of the big picture or how what we do and the way we approach learning will have more impact on our students long down their educational path.


  • Posted on January 1, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Happy New Year 2013! I am excited to be back writing daily at Practically Paradise. I have read several thousand books since January 2012,  but neglected to share. So, my first resolution #1 is Write More. As my own harshest critic I am taking away the pressure to write perfect reviews and not post til everything is “just right.” You’ll see more titles shared here and varying depths of coverage. Why? As a librarian you do not always read and analyze every word in a picture  book. Sometimes you need the 1-2 minute blurbs so you can match this with a reader and move on.

Resolution #2 share at more state library conferences. Those 1-2 minute blurbs I mentioned are an essential part of any presentation I do on Needed Nonfiction. I have presented for years at the Tennessee Association of School Librarians annual conference, but my need to share how nonfiction impacts our students is nagging at me to share NOW. I love series nonfiction, sharing ways to integrate picture books with nonfiction and seizing the moment when reading YA/middle school fiction to seek information.

Resolution #3 embrace my love of collaboration and social networking. I resolve to be there for my friends and participate in our personal learning networks. I love using facebook and ALA Connect. I love to email and text. Due to my hearing problem I don’t talk on the phone that much, but I will make time for more face to face contact. I can type nearly as fast as I talk, so I love instant messaging. In my search to improve my communication, I explored the app Dragon Dictation and others suggested in the article “Apps for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired” from

Resolution #4 acknowledge my own areas of growth. My STEM Magnet elementary school provided our teachers with iPad2’s before our winter break. As I am able to FINALLY access this technology for myself, I am sharing resources with my staff and seeking new apps & techniques as rapidly as I can. I don’t have to be perfect, but I need to be quick. I am especially interested in locating apps to assist our exceptional education, autistic, English Language learners, and inquiry-focused STEM learners.

Resolution #5 celebrate more. I don’t stop and celebrate the good enough. Putting those individually cut out stars with each of my 430 students names on the bulletin board outside to celebrate their A.R. goals seems like a waste of time, until that first grader who finally earns 5 points tells me, “You told me if I just kept reading what I liked, I’d get better and could get some points. Now I’m on the board.” Those high-five’s when students are proud of their learning mean something. From my facebook friends, I am incorporating the jar of goodness. Every day I will reflect on something good that happened and put it in the jar.

Resolution #6 encourage deep learning and inquiry-based learning. I read Judi Moreillon’s post on “New Year’s Resolution: Deep Learning through School Library Programs“. I will be reading their wiki on Denton Inquiry 4 Lifelong Learning and will ask my school district to consider modeling this on their sharepoint. My first official blog was called and I remain committed to the concept of deep thinking and deep learning. Tina Barseghian wrote in September “How Do We Define and Measure “Deeper Learning”?”

I am content that my efforts on metacognition, social and intrapersonal learning are headed the right direction. If you are one of the dozens of groups that tours my school to see how we take the concepts of STEM with inquiry based and project-based learning to heart with elementary students, you can see my students modeling this daily. I might teach a skill, ask the questions, inspire them to wonder, give them the opportunity to explore, provide feedback through rubrics and exit tickets, and encourage them to teach someone else in their class or take their learning further.

My motto is “if one person doesn’t master this, we have all failed.” The students know this and they work together so all can achieve. If they cannot teach it, they didn’t learn it. We recognize that everyone is good at different areas and that we must work together to solve problems. Hey?! If my students recognize that, shouldn’t all of us do the same. I hope your new year is wonderful.

Any more resolutions I should include? I always think seven is better than six, so I left an empty slot.