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.....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Conference Opening

The CSLA 2008 Conference opened tonight. Here's a photo of Connie Williams, the new state president, and Jane Ritter, Conference Chair, cutting the ribbons. Yeah, sorry. I know it's fuzzy.
Here they are in the exhibit hall:

Here's the poster display I put together for how to form a book cart drill team, with Pam Oehlman, the new Southern Section President, who was also one of the "California Girls" team members:

The concurrent sessions start tomorrow morning, and I'll be doing my session tomorrow afternoon. I'll try to post tomorrow night about the sessions I attend.

CSLA Conference 2008 - I've Arrived!

I arrived in Sacramento last night for the CSLA Conference. As you can see from my post below, I haven't blogged in ages. But, I decided to spring for Internet access in my room and am going to try to share some of the highlights of this conference since I know there will be many. The CSLA Conference is always a wonderful opportunity to retool with great new ideas and skills, hear wonderful speakers and authors, and network with wonderful school library people.

If you are at the conference, please consider attending my session on Friday at 3:30 on "Connecting with Students Online is Easy Using Voicethread." Here's the "commercial" I created for the session:

Also, please check out the Poster Sessions in the Exhibit Hall. I put together one on "How to Form a Book Cart Drill Team." After the "California Girls" represented CSLA Southern Section at the Book Cart Drill Team Competition at ALA last summer, CSLA wants to put on a competition at next year's conference. The poster display is intended to encourage interest and provide information about how to form a team.

I'll be attending the CSLA State Board meeting all day today, so won't get to any of the workshops, but will be at the Exhibit Hall for the opening of exhibits at 6 PM tonight. I'll try to post a report tonight or tomorrow.

I'm looking forward to seeing old and new friends here!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Book Cart Drill Team Video and article

I've been promising a video of the "California Girls" Book Cart Drill Team routine. We are expecting a professional video from DEMCO which I might swap out with this one when it comes. In the meantime, here is the video shot for us by super teacher librarian Rosemarie Bernier from Hamilton High School and edited by me (my first attempt using iMovie!) You can view it here, but might prefer the "high quality" option you can select if you go to this YouTube site link.

Also, check out the great article that Tammie Celi, our team member from Columbus Middle School, submitted to the Daily News and they published in their online edition.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

ALA Conference

I got back Tuesday afternoon from five days at the ALA (American Library Association) Conference in Anaheim. What a wonderful experience – full of great sessions, terrific exhibits, tons of free books and ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies) for me and my library that I can't wait to read, a chance to visit with old friends and meet new ones, and an unforgettable experience performing with the “California Girls” in the Book Cart Drill Team Competition event. There's an overwhelming amount of material to cover, but I will try to at least touch on some of it here. Highlights of the conference for me included:
  • The Advocacy Institute on Friday, June 27. Hearing and meeting the “Spokane Moms” who have done such a terrific job of advocacy for libraries in Washington State was a real treat and so inspiring. We have just got to figure out how to clone their program in California! And, they are very ready and willing to help us do just that. We just need to find our “moms” (or dad?). It was also terrific having three CSLA people on the program --- Sandra Yoon, CSLA President, Connie Williams, CSLA President Elect, and Sandy Schuckett, one of CSLA's most illustrious advocates/activists. Please visit this wiki page for my summary of some of the great things I learned there. And, if you were there, or you have ideas, please do feel free to edit the wiki page and add what I missed, etc. I am happy to report that my school board did not cut any teacher librarians for 200-2009, but I know we still have our work cut out for us to avoid cuts next year. We need to convince all the players how, as Sara Kelly Johns stated at the institute, "“If you want students to have 21st century skills, you need 21st century libraries with librarians.” Here are just a couple of the photos I took at the Institute:
"Spokane Moms" Lisa Layera Brunkan, Denette Hill, & Susan Burney with CSLA President Sandra Yoon and President Elect Connie Williams

Sandy Schuckett, Retired LAUSD Teacher Librarian & CSLA Advocacy Guru
  • Participating with the “California Girls” in the Book Cart Drill Team Competition on Sunday. Ten of us had a ball organizing our team representing CSLA, Southern Section. We did it to publicize CSLA for other conference goers, to have fun, and to highlight the fact that, while the reading we promote and the information literacy skills we teach in our school libraries are crucial for 21st century learners, we also make reading and learning library skills fun for our students. In case you're wondering whether we won, the answer is no, but that was never really the plan. Since we drew a group from a big geographic area, we were only able to have two practices before we arrived in Anaheim, and our goal was just to try to be in sync and have fun. We were just all so glad that we got through the routine without a disaster :) and that the crowd enjoyed it! Many thanks to Demco for sponsoring this, and congrats to the winners. It was great that the only other school library group, the Bibliotechies from St. Margaret's Episcopal School, won third place! I'll post a video of event and a slide show of photos as soon as I can, but here are a few photos for now, courtesy of Joy Millam:
Here's the team forming a big star.
Here's part of the team doing a small star.

That's me, swinging my bikini top at the end
Book Cart Drill Team members posing after the event with other CSLA members
  • Attending Gale's event at the Grove of Anaheim with The High Strung Band. My Gale rep, Mason Golden, was nice enough to invite the entire California Girls team to attend this event Sunday evening after the book cart drill team competition. Eight of us were able to attend. We loved the band and had a wonderful time!
Some of our group dancing at the Grove.
Some of our group (Yvonne and Pam's husband Bill) on stage with the band.
  • Attending the the Odyssey Awards and Printz Awards. It was a real treat to hear great audiobook narrators and producers at the Odyssey Awards Sunday night and speeches by great authors at the Printz Awards on Monday night. Next time (if there is one), I have to get to the Newbery/Caldecott Awards banquet, which I hear was also wonderful.
  • Attending Greenwood's Pop Culture Night at the Lucky Strike Lanes on Saturday. Here's a photo of Roza and me with “Joan Rivers.” Many thanks to Greenwood and to my rep, Scott Bloom, for the invitation. Here's me with "Joan Rivers" and Roza:

  • Speaker California Teacher of the Year for 2007 Alan Sitomer's presentation about how to reach reluctant readers. He had some great ideas I plan to use next year in my library.
  • Visiting all the exhibits and getting tons (actually EIGHT bags!) of wonderful ARCs (advanced readers copies) and published books. Many, many thanks to all the exhibitors who were incredibly generous. I thought the most creative booth designs were Demco's and The Wizards of Coast (who also gave out some wonderful free books and ARCs). Here's a photo of Roza, Nancy, and me at the Demco booth:
  • And here I am with Christopher Paul Curtis, one of my favorite children's/YA authors:

Stay tuned for more photos and a video of the book cart drill team soon!

Monday, June 23, 2008

School's Out!

Time flies, and it's been another month since I last posted. School is OUT, and I even finally got my library annual report done!

Unfortunately, though, I can't just drop everything and go into vacation mode, since I am now anticipating the district Board Meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, June 24). The action at the last finance committee meeting was very positive; the two board members asked our superintendent to take teacher librarians off the cut list. However, in the Board Meeting Agenda, there is a counter recommendation to have each of us teach two classroom periods. That would effectively reduce the time we have to be librarians by half, and would mean that students in classes that met during the two periods we were in classrooms would never have access to our library teaching. I am hopeful that this recommendation will not be approved by the Board, since it would seriously hamper what we can do to help students and teachers at each of our schools. I know this is late notice, but I invite anyone reading this to come support us tomorrow!

ALA starts this Friday! I am very excited about all I'll be doing there. I will start by spending all day Friday at a pre-conference Library Advocacy Institute. Then on Sunday is our Book Cart Drill Team routine. Please wish our team luck! Here's our T-shirt design:At the conference, I also plan to check out library furniture companies for our new school library, attend sessions on a large variety of topics that will help me improve library programs, get lots of free books (there are supposed to be a ton of ARCs - Advanced Reader Copies -- given out in the exhibits area), and have lots of fun hanging out with library friends :)!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Catching Up Again

It's been ages since I posted here. I didn't really expect anyone to be reading this after I completed SLL 2.0 last summer, but with the new Classroom Learning 2.0 and people from my district and school participating, I guess I should try to update it a little.

I've been keeping very busy both at work and with CSLA (California School Library Association) activities.

At work, we just finished a busy book fair, and, before that, had a wonderful author visit with Lisa Yee. She has written four great books for middle school students --- Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, and So Totally Emily Ebers -- and has several new books in the works. The students were really taken with her lively presentation, and she had a lot of great advice about how to write. After a large assembly, she did two small question and answer sessions, and I was really pleased with our students questions.

Another notable event at work was getting our new Alexandria library software. The catalog is now online so students and teachers can access it from a web browser. It isn't available outside of our district network yet. I hope that will happen before the summer.

I have also been trying to keep up a booktalks blog that I link to from my library page. I want most of the booktalks to be done by students. I've had some enthusiasm, but want to get more students to follow through and record.

The bad news at work is that the district is considering cutting teacher librarian positions. All six of the TLs in my district have spent an extraordinary amount of time of late advocating for our positions. Teacher librarians help students become critical thinkers, enthusiastic readers, skillful researchers, and ethical users of information. Study after study demonstrates the link between credentialed school librarians and student achievement. It is so difficult for me to understand how, even in times of dire budget problems, we can consider cutting back on this. In a recent speech to the Board, I concluded that "The library is no longer merely a physical location where students come to get books. Instead, the library extends far beyond its physical walls to offer students and teachers access to research databases, other quality online websites, interactive online tools, and – coming later this month - our library catalog -- from any computer with internet access. As it does so, students need guidance from professional information specialists in how to navigate this new domain and use what it offers efficiently and responsibly. Please do not deprive our students of this needed guidance in information literacy at a time in the evolution of online information and technology when they need it more than ever before."

So, with all of this going on, I thought of giving my Avatar a sad, or even angry, face. Instead, I decided to get her ready for the beach. Why? Well, I'm attending the American Library Association annual conference in Anaheim the end of June, and I got the nutty idea that CSLA Southern Section, which I have been serving on the Board for as a Region Rep, should enter the "book cart drill team" competition at the conference. Definitely a nutty idea, considering that I am not musical or coordinated. But, I sent out a call for participants, and we are having our first team rehearsal this Saturday! Wish us luck. We're going to do a routine to the Beach Boys California Girls. If you wonder what a book cart drill team is, go to youtube and search for "book cart drill team" for some examples.

So, I don't know where I'll be working in the fall, but I am very excited about attending ALA. I am always so energized by the CSLA conferences and workshops I attend, and I am sure I will find ALA an incredible event, too. To finish catching up on my CSLA activities, my co-Region 2 Rep, Judy Davidson, were responsible for coordinating the presentations at the all-day CSLA Southern Section Workshop March 1, and were able to assemble a wonderful assortment of speakers. Jim Duke, our Southern Section President, did a terrific job of leading the whole board in making the day a great one. Then, at the end of March, we organized our own Region 2 morning workshop with three great LAUSD TLs -- Marc McPhee, Mark Bobrosky, and Karen Gonzalez -- giving us tips on organizing our libraries and our professional lives. I am so grateful to CSLA for all it has offered me in professional development, networking, volunteering, and friendship opportunities. I wouldn't be half the teacher librarian I am without it. So, even with my future uncertain, I have taken the step of agreeing to run for President Elect of CSLA Southern Section. The ballots will go online June 2. I believe I am running unopposed, but, if you are a CSLA member, please vote for me!