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Using Livebinders for Hurricane Katrina Project Podcast

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Every year over the last ten I have worked with the 7th grade English teachers on a project that encompasses literature, research, a written/digital product, a field trip, and service learning. In that time there have been five different teachers who have taught ELA to this grade level. One thing that has remained constant is me, and over the years, I have developed a tool to make the research super easy for the kids. Using Livebinders I have been able to curate resources and collate all the tools that the students need from the very beginning of the project when they read historical fiction about Hurricane Katrina's devastation in our area to the very end with the digital scrapbook. This is truly a collaborative project between the English teachers, myself, and our colleagues at Dr. King Charter school where we visit for service learning. 



Early this year, I was contacted by Tina Schneider from Livebinders who asked if I wanted to participate in a podcast on how I have used their…

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week Covid-19 Edition

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It's that time again when we celebrate teachers, and the hard work that they do in classrooms across the United States. So, I say to all you teachers out there: YOU ARE APPRECIATED!!
My school is trying its best to give us little treats each and every day over the course of the week even though we are at home and not at school. The first gift was a sign for our yard, and lucky me, my sign was delivered by one of my very favorite students. I couldn't get a picture with her, but I did get one with me and the sign. 

Then on Thursday, a truly wonderful treat arrived in my inbox. A thank you with quotes from different students. I love hearing what is important to them among the many things that I do at school. I think this sums it up nicely. 
I received something else in my email inbox from a seventh grader who created this meme just for me. Thanks, Jude, I really do appreciate it. 

Besides being librarian at Patrick Taylor, I serve as the faculty advisor for the school's chap…

My Story about the Library During the Covid-19 Pandemic

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I have been gearing myself up to writing a blog post for the last couple of weeks. I think that it is important for me to document now what I have been going through in the library because in a few years this will hopefully be just a faded memory. 

On Friday, March 13th at about 1:15PM I opened an email from the district to see that our schools would be closed for a month. This is about the time that our high school students were finishing lunch, and I saw a strange excitement in the students outside the day at 2:40PM, so I had just over an hour to get kids into the library to check out books to take home. I sent an email to all teachers to let them know that I was open for business. Students kept coming in to check out books until the end of the day, and I kept loading them down with books. I have no clue how many I checked out that afternoon. Last week, I got an email from a student asking me how he could return his books. The other day I created this graphic to post on social medi…

Scheduling Virtual Visits with Authors

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Putting authors in front of my students at Taylor has always been a goal of mine, and I have been lucky over the years to have had many authors visit our school since 2008. Getting authors to visit in house is not always possible for many reasons, so I have supplemented face to face visits with virtual visits. Skype use to be my method of choice until my school district blocked it. Since then, we have been using FaceTime quite effectively. So far everyone who I have scheduled for a virtual visit has some Apple device that allows us to use FaceTime. 

I was early on the bandwagon for skyping with authors, and I could always find an author who had time to talk. Now, it has gotten more difficult as more librarians and teachers are asking for these virtual visits. I have such a small budget that I would rather spend library money on purchasing the author's books for my students to read than for paying the author. Not that I don't think their time is worth something, but my budget i…

Banned Book Week 2019

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Every year, I do a lesson for Banned Book Week with 8th graders. They read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson around the same time, and of course, BBW fits nicely with that book. I created a slide show for this activity years ago that I edit and update yearly. I wanted to share the lesson if anyone would care to use it. After my presentation with some great videos (there are four  videos embedded in the slide show) and lots of discussion, the students are put into seven groups. Each member of the group will read the same three articles about the freedom to read. I found the articles on the Gale Databases and the Internet. I have put all the folders with the articles in Google Drive so that the students could make a copy of each article and annotate each article individually. Last year, I made paper copies for annotation, and that was truly a nightmare. The students' job is to find four key facts that support the idea of  the importance of the freedom to read. They begin reading in th…

Creating a Newsletter for the Library the Easy Way

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My school has an additional 75 more students than it had last year. With 800 students at the school and only one librarian, me, it is hard to spread the word about what is happening day to day in the library. I have signs and book displays around the library. I put notices about the library in our daily Paw Prints that is read out loud in study hall and emailed to students and parents. I also send email blasts about the library to faculty and students.
The problem with an email or a notice in Paw Prints is that once it is published, I can't update it. Then when I have more info, I have to write another notice. I certainly can do that, and really try to say something about the library everyday in Paw Prints and every month in the school's newsletter for parents. But I want to limit my email blasts because I would like the stakeholders to actually read what I send. I get emails from companies and causes daily in my in box, and I ignore most of them because they send sooooo many…

Creating a Digital Breakout for Library Orientation

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Last year I used Google forms to create my first digital breakout for a lesson on finding copyright free images. I had wanted to blog about it but never had a chance to do so. I decided to start off the new year with another digital breakout for my annual library orientation with 6th and 7th graders. I think that this could easily be adapted for younger or older students. It was a great success and so easy because I did not have to drag out boxes and locks that needed to be set up for each class. All the students needed was an iPad. 


I gave my usual introduction to the library with a slide presentation. The last slide had the URL and a QR code for the breakout. I explained that the students would work with a partner and one iPad to complete the breakout. Many did not know that the camera app can be used to read a QR code. You don't take a picture of the QR code; you just frame the code in the camera and a window will appear with the link. You tap that window for the URL to open i…