Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Moving On?

Here's a heads up for anyone reading this that I am going to put this blog on hiatus for a while. I have just started a new blog - - that I want to try to focus on, at least for right now. So, please visit me there :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time to move on...

I titled my last post "It is the best of times, it is the worst of times." The last several days has definitely felt like the worst of times for me personally. My job as teacher librarian at Lindero Canyon Middle School is now over, and I learned Wednesday afternoon that I wasn't offered one of the new media specialist jobs in its place. Having given my all to my school library for seven years and built a program of reading and enrichment and of information literacy, research, digital citizenship, and integrated technology instruction that I believe was outstanding, made that decision feel devastating. As of today, though, I am honestly starting to feel, instead, that it was a blessing in disguise. My future right now is very uncertain --- will I work as a language arts teacher at my school, integrating all my library and tech expertise for my students and continue to enjoy the comraderie of my language arts teacher friends, or will I find a school library position elsewhere where I can begin a new adventure sharing my passion for libraries and all my library and tech skills? That, I don't know right now. However, I now welcome either of those prospects, and honestly believe that either of them will be a better use of my skills than I would have in the new positions where I would have been stretched so thin between different schools that I would have been unable to fully develop the kind of programs I would want to at any of them. If you are reading this, please cheer me on to my new tomorrow :)

P.S. In any case, this summer will include lots of time planning for CSLA as Conference Chair and as incoming Southern Section Chair. I'm so excited about both!

Monday, May 25, 2009

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times

I can't believe another school year is almost over. Just three and a half weeks left! Here are some great things that have happened this year:
  • The library is busier than ever with student visits, projects, and great new books.
  • We moved to a temporary library during campus construction. We're pretty cramped for space and I have no office, but nice things about it are that I am always out in the library to work with students, the computer lab is now next door, and I am getting to mingle more with a different group of teachers who have rooms in my building.
  • Our district got a fantastic EETT (Enhancing Education Through Technology) federal grant that funded two class sets of laptops, headphones, and responders for our school, along with teacher training. Jani Nelson and I were chosen to be the two tech/mentors for the school, helping teachers and students to take advantage of this new equipment. That means that I have benefited from additional training, got to go to CUE for the first time (which was terrific!-I'm definitely hooked), and am having a wonderful time working with teachers and students using the laptops for enriching projects and activities.
  • I've added two new responsilities with CSLA: President Elect of Southern Section and Chair of the 2009 Conference scheduled for November 19-22, 2009. Please put the latter on your calendar. It's going to be great!
  • I got to present at the Ventura County Office of Education Library Conference, our district Staff Development Day, the CSLA Annual Conference, and CSLA's Southern Section Spring Workshop.
  • I got an iPhone, and also joined the cloud computing world. I love it!
  • We just finished a great book fair, had a great author visit with Jennifer Anne Kogler in December, and are looking forward to hosting author Neal Shusterman May 27.
  • Did I mention that I love my job working with students and teachers on reading, research, information literacy, and technology?
Here are some very sad things that have happened this year:
  • The state of the California budget is a disaster, and education, as well as many, many social services are suffering and appear bound to suffer even more.
  • Our district has decided that teacher librarians as we know them are no longer needed. Instead, the six TLs in our district and the two teachers on special assignment for technology are going to be replaced by three new positions that will somehow do the work of both. What that means is that three people are going to need to try to cover the work now being done by eight hard working people. While I am, of course, mourning the loss of my job which I love, I am most of all mourning the loss to our students who will no longer have on-site teacher librarians to help them become critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical digital citizens and users of information. This comes at a time when our children need help with these skills more than ever. I'm still waiting to know how these new positions can be expected to fill this void, and what my own job will be next school year. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I wanted to share my experience with a visit by author Jennifer Anne Kogler to my middle school on Friday. Jennifer recently published her second book, The Otherworldies. Jennifer is just 27, a recent Princeton graduate and currently a student at Stanford Law School. She knows how to relate directly to students and engage them while promoting the joy of reading, how writers can get ideas and successfully complete writing projects, and issues of plagiarism. She had all our students enthralled throughout her talk and keen to ask questions during the Q & A portion. Many of them even lingered afterwards to get in one more question. I would highly recommend her as a guest author for other schools. Please feel free to write me back for more information. You can get in touch with Jennifer and learn more about her at her website at

Here’s a little more on her book: In The Otherwordlies, Fern is a seventh grader who has always been a bit different and something of an outcast. Her family, though, including her popular twin brother, have always supported her and tried to make her feel “normal.” Then, one day she discovers to her shock and dismay that she is actually adopted and is an otherworldly, the “PC” term today’s vampires use for themselves. She finds herself immediately placed at the center of an age-old struggle between two warring vampire groups. The book is not only a real page turner; it also ponders issues of bullying, being an outsider, what constitutes family, and how who we are is based on our choices, not our background.

21st Century Skills VoiceThread

One of the questions we keep getting asked when we advocate for the importance of strong school libraries for our students is "What do teacher librarians do that classroom teachers don't already do?" and "what role do teacher librarians play in technology?" In an effort to answer these questions, the other teacher librarians in my district and I created this VoiceThread message:

We emailed a link to this message to all our district teachers, staff, administrators, and board members. We plan to do more advocacy efforts, so anyone reading this, please offer your input on what we can add, improve, etc.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Conference Days 3 & 4

As I feared, I just couldn't keep up with all the activities at the conference and blog them at the same time. So, here's a brief catch up.

On Saturday morning, I attended George Pilling's wonderful session on "Storytelling to Meet the Standards." What a great storyteller he is! I do booktalks at my library, but I have always felt too inhibited to be a storyteller. I really went to the session just to treat myself to hearing some good storytelling. Well, I came away convinced that I am just going to have to overcome my inhibitions and build stories into my lessons, since they truly are the best way of getting my students involved and paying attention. Wish me luck! I also got lucky --- I won George's generous "door prize" of one of his storytelling CDs. And, I was the winner bidder for his other CD at the Silent Auction! And, on the subject of storytelling, I also treated myself to a couple of Joe McHugh's books. I have the Thanksgiving week off, and plan to enjoy a lot of storytelling :)

I also attended the session on "Online Reference Books" and got some good ideas on how to better promote my ebooks. At Vicki Plefka and Joanne Ligamari's "Picture Books, Novels, and Google Tools" session, I learned how to do "lit. trips" projects using Google Maps and Google Earth. I'm definitely going to work on convincing a few teachers to let me help them incorporate these exciting mapping tools into class projects.

For the last concurrent session of the day I had the great treat of facilitating Tammie Celi's "Just Dewey It!" presentation. She not only gave us all tips on how to teach students about the Dewey Decimal System, she also staged an incredibly entertaining and funny performance of "Dewey Dewey." How lucky her students are to have her as their TL. Mark Bobrosky was also great as Melvil himself. :) Here's a slideshow:

Sunday morning I attended the Curriculum Committee meeting. This committee can play such an important role in helping us show the world the value of what we contribute to the curriculum. The committee is open to new members. Do consider applying to participate. After the committee meeting, I split my time between two of the several sessions I really wanted to attend: "Good Slick Stuff to Do with Photoshop Elements or iPhoto" and "M-Learning: Learning on the Go." That's the one frustrating thing about CSLA Conferences --- too many choices! I did get a lot of good ideas from both the sessions I attended, despite the frustration of not being able to be two, three, or four places at once.

The finale of the conference was the authors and illustrators brunch with a moving presentation by Rosemary Wells, and a great finale it was! She moved us all with her messages about how incredibly important it is to read to children, her reading of her Yoko book with its anti-bullying and tolerance messages, her account of her forthcoming book about Lincoln's sons, and her overview of Red Moon at Sharpsburg with its portrayal of the true devastation of war. I have been meaning to read Red Moon at Sharpsburg, and am now placing it at the very top of my "must read" list.

I can't give enough thanks to the conference committee, ARC staff, and everyone involved in putting on the conference this year. You all did a fantastic job. I am so glad I have this week off and can take some time to absorb all the wonderful ideas while they are fresh and make action plans.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Conference Day 2

What a wonderful and full day Friday was! It started with the opening session, and a very entertaining and thought-provoking session by storyteller Joe McHugh. He talked about the difference between mythos (sensory, emotional, holistic, immediate, participatory, and tribal) and logos (symbolic, analytical, sequential, nationalistic) learning and thinking. Both have value, but an overabundance of one or the other isn't good. We as librarians can help to keep a balance between the two.

The concurrent first session I attended was a talk by super advocates Pam Oehlman and Sandy Patton on "Advocacy 101: Using Your Voice to Give a Shout Out for Your School Library Program." They have done an outstanding job in Long Beach USD building support for the their program. We got some excellent tips on how to build relationships and advocate for our own school libraries. They will be posting their handout. Their superintendent, a great school library supporter, was the recognized administrator of the year at our Legi Lunch following the session.

At the Legi Lunch, our lobbyist Jeff Frost gave a report on the sad state of finances in California but reminded us that we need to get to know our new legislators and let them know what we do. I'm going to send a letter of congratulations and greeting to my new State Senator Fran Pavley as soon as I get home!

After lunch I attended the Good Ideas! Session and heard some great lesson plan ideas from this year's Good Ideas! winners.

Then, on to my session: "Connecting with Students Online is Easy Using VoiceThread." Thanks to everyone who came! I had a great time talking about my favorite Web 2.0 tool. Here's a link to the handout. What I forgot to say at the end of my session was what I plan for my next VoiceThread project. It's going to be a personal one, scanning a family photo, and giving an account of each of the family members. Then, I'll share it with other relatives to add their accounts. My other idea for a professional VoiceThread project is to put together a set of images depicting various 21st century skills our students need and each of the librarians in my district will participate in telling teachers how we can help their students achieve these skills. (I figure if I write my plans here I'll feel more oblidged to get them done :) ).

Both Gale and Nullmeyer had very nice receptions early in the evening. Thank you!

The last great event of the day was the Presidents Reception. Joe and Paula McHugh put on a wonderful, fun old time radio show. I was on the sound effects crew led by Paula. We had a ball making all sorts of sounds, and listening to the actors read their parts was lots of fun. I can't wait to get the recording.

I did take a few photos, but will have to post those later. On to Day 3.....