Tuesday, August 23, 2016

First Full Week of School, Done

PFTSTA Library is often filled with readers at lunch
It never ceases to amaze me. One minute I am enjoying summer break, and the next thing you know I am immersed in a new school year. I realize now that there was more that I could have done over the summer to prepare for the new year. I had only a handful of books ready to order, so I have been frantically preparing a book order. As I began orientation, I noticed updates that needed to happen on the library website. Most of those are now complete, but I haven't visited every page and know that there are more to do. Students are clamoring to know when the clubs that I sponsor will begin. I made signs on Friday advertising the high school book group and the new this year 8th grade book group. In the past, the 8th grade was with the middle school students, and then last year, I added them to the high school group. We made changes to the school lunch schedule this year, so 8th grade will have their very own group. On Monday, I met with the high school students.I have a large number of freshman in the group, and I am hoping some of the upper class-men will rejoin. I have been trying to poll the returning 7th graders to see who wants to remain in the middle school group. The group is capped at 30, and I have to see how many spots we have for the new 6th graders. There are all the calendar dates that need to be added to the library Google calendar. I am still negotiating a couple of author skype dates that I am trying to schedule. Actually, it is good that I didn't firm up those dates before school started because of the changes in our daily schedule that I didn't know about.

Bookmarked for 2016-17
The 6th and 7th graders flock to the library before school and during lunch. At lunch, our makerspace materials are out for use. Students asked for them before school, but I don't think that 20 minutes is enough time to begin any projects and get the materials put away before 1st period. Last year, the library got funding from a grant for the school to build a mini-makerspace. I have more money to spend for this year. The students love the two Sphero robots, and I am going to add the new SPRK+ from Sphero and a couple of Ozobots. The Little Bits are also highly popular. I am going to see about adding more kits to what we already have. One of the gadgets that has been used by all ages from 6th to 12th grade is our 3D pen. We purchased three of them. Unfortunately, two of the pens got clogged and are impossible for me to fix. I know that the kids loved using them, but they are just too fragile. For the price, it is just not feasible for me to keep replacing them.

6th grader makes her first creation with a 3D pen
Orientation for 6th and 7th students is complete as well as for new 8th and 9th graders. We only have eight new 10th and 11th graders, and two of those are students who left and are returning to our school. Soon I will be starting lessons on our new tool for creating citations, Noodle Tools. I haven't spent much time learning the ins and outs of Noodle Tools, so I was thrilled when I got notice of the webinars that they will offer. I will attend one on Friday for newbies. I hope to be more confident after the webinar, and I can begin creating the instructional videos explaining how to use the tool.

Building with the Legos
For some reason, it seems that a big part of my job is putting out fires. Actually, I love problem solving, but when there is a class in the library, or several kids are asking for help at one time, or the phone starts to ring it can be hard to get any one task completed. I don't think that I would have it any other way.

Orientation for 7th graders

Saturday, August 13, 2016

To Open or Not to Open the Library, the First Day of School

Engrossed in a good book

School opened for students on August 11th, so I have now logged in two school days of the new year. On the first day, I began the day helping 6th graders all who are new to our school find their classrooms. At the change of each period, I was  in the hall helping to guide the students to where they should be. The district asked schools to post on social media using the hashtag #JPPSS1stday. I ran around the building taking a few pictures to post on Facebook and Twitter. Then when I had a few minutes, I worked on the library catalog and getting the library ready to open. Also, seniors, who are taking online classes, were scheduled in the library. Oh, I am the school's laminator queen, and I had piles of posters and papers to laminate for the new year. 

First book check out for 2016-17 school year
He is gearing up for the Fantastic Beasts movie by reading the book first
The district guidelines allow librarians to wait two weeks before opening the library to classes, though administration asks that librarians check out books as needed during that period. I like to have a soft opening the first few days letting in the regulars, and then try to schedule orientation for 6th and 7th graders as soon as I can. This year, it was raining during lunch the first two days of school. I got a call from the principal on the first day to explain that the students could not go outside and needed to have somewhere to go when they finished their lunch. She asked if I would open the library for all lunches. That meant I would have students walk in who have not gone through orientation and do not know my expectations when they visit the library. 

I love seeing students reading together
Let me say this, I am thrilled to be back at school. I really love the kids and love having them in the library. BUT, it has not been a great opening. My desktop computer is not working. This is the computer hooked up to the scanner for me to check in and check out books. Though I can scan books by checking them out on one of the iPads, the wireless didn't seem to be working. So that was not an option.  I can also use my laptop, but if I have to type in the barcode numbers, it is too easy to make a mistake. We added 100 students to last year's enrollment. There really were not quite enough tables and chairs in the building for the classrooms last year, but we managed. As teachers received their class rosters this year, they were clamoring for more tables and chairs for their classrooms. That left the library with two tables and about 15 chairs. The district claims that they have purchased enough tables and chairs for the school when the building opened three years ago. That just isn't true. How am I going to teach classes in the library without furniture? There is not enough seating for the students when they visit at lunch. With technology not working correctly and no furniture, I am not a happy librarian. On top of that, the school server wasn't working on Friday. When I logged off my laptop at the end of the day. I thought that I would be able to open my orientation powerpoint at home. I just tried, and I can't get to any of my documents. My back up external hard drives won't open the document either. 

Do I sound like I am whining? I hope not. 

Using good time management and getting homework done during lunch

Back to my original focus of this post--when should the library open for the school year. I just can't see waiting two weeks before having students visit. The students are already in Destiny, so the library management program is really ready for check outs when school opens except for setting the calendar, which I fixed for the new year on Friday. The sooner that I hold orientation means the students are prepared for using the library. Teachers aren't ready for library collaboration during the first few weeks of school which gives me a bit of time to get some of the library management tasks completed. The teachers are waiting for the laptops to be given out to the students before working with me because so much of what I do with the students involves technology. 

Another student who found a good read on the first day of school 

Anyway, despite all my difficulties, the library did open the first day. I have orientation scheduled to begin next week and a visit for pre-testing with senior project students. The library is part of the school's academic program, and if the teachers have started teaching then I need to make the library and its resources available for anyone who needs them. I may grump, but the library doors are always open. 

These 7th graders were happy to get the new Sphero working for our makerspace

All the opening issues aside, I am looking forward to a good year. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Gearing up for my 36th Year of Teaching, 26th in a Library

There are only a few hours left of summer break for 2016. I start back to work on Monday, and our students will start on Thursday. Am I ready to go back? Yes and no. This has been a wonderful summer of rest and relaxation. I did not attend any conferences this summer nor did I spend hours making preparations for the new year. However, when I do reflect on the summer, I realize that my mind was never very far from the library. 

I read. I am always reading something and though I don't like reading two print books at one time, I usually have one print book going and one audio book. I review books for both School Library Journal and School Library Connection. This means that I don't always get to choose what I read, but I didn't review much this summer, though I have 5 books by my bed to review right now. I am on the committee for the state library that selects the books for Louisiana Teen Readers' Choice (LTRC). At the beginning of the summer, we narrowed our list down to 40 books for the 2018 program. I have been trying to read from that list before our next meeting in a week. Unfortunately, I can't share those titles with you because they are still on the consideration list for LTRC. Of course, I had to read the new Harry Potter as soon as it came out, and you can read my review here. 

Register here for this event
At the end of the school year, I was asked to be on a panel for the SLJ Teen Live conference. It is next week on August 10th. I am speaking at 1PM CDT on the College and Career panel. I was thrilled to be asked. When I agreed to speak, I knew my focus, but I did not know what I wanted on my slides. That took quite a bit of preparation which of course was done over summer break. I am eager to share what I do in my library for the seniors.   

This is how I am listed on the speaker page for SLJ Teen Live

I have been watching how Facebook (FB) has been evolving as a very useful professional tool. All summer long, I have been reading my feed and learning new things to use in my library. I follow several authors, probably should do more and many publishers. I am also a member of several librarian groups where I have posted questions and responded to others' questions that have given me some great ideas for my library. Some of the groups I like include ALA Think Tank, The School Librarians Workshop, and Fellowship of High School Librarians. We also have a closed group for the librarians in my school district so that we have a place to vent but also share information. There are also communities on FB centered around educational technology. I am part of a Breakout EDU group that is a fabulous place to get more information about this program. So much sharing going on with this Facebook page to help teachers, it is amazing. I just joined a FB page for users of Symbaloo. I use Symbaloo with my teachers and students and really can't live without it anymore. I am so glad that the FB page was created because I know that I have more to learn about using this tool with students. 

I also gave myself time to re-energize. I took two trips, visited with many friends, purged stuff from the back of my closets, and walked everyday. I think having time away from school and work is important. During the school year, it is hard for me to unplug. I made myself do it this summer, and I am glad that I did. I am ready to go back, and I can't wait to hear what my students have to say about the book that Rowling did not write.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

On Vacation and Looking for Libraries 2016

Enjoying my favorite garden by the marsh in Kennebunk, ME
I grew up in New Orleans, where I live now, and my parents have always lived here, too, Until after Hurricane Katrina flooded my father's house in 2005, and he and his wife moved up to Kennebunk, ME to live permanently. We have visited the area many times over the years, and last summer we toured around Vermont before landing in Kennebunk at the end of vacation. This year we decided to head north of Portland in Maine to visit Camden, Rockland, and Acadia National Park which we had never seen before heading to Kennebunk. 

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park
The coast of Maine is beautiful with its rocks, water, and quaint towns. New England has an ambiance that is so different from New Orleans. It helps that the temperatures during the day were in the 70's while it was blistering hot at home. Though New Orleans is home to wonderful food, we are quite fond of the lobster, clams, and scallops that are so plentiful in Maine. 

Lobster roll from Beals in Southwest Harbor
Last year, when we were in Vermont, I was so impressed to find public libraries in all the little towns that we drove through. I got a few pictures, but I did not capture every single one that we saw. This year, I decided to stop and capture the image of all the libraries that I found. Even though these libraries may offer limited hours, the towns do support them. We all know the importance of libraries in every community. Below are pictures of all the libraries that I found this trip. 

Cape Porpoise, ME (library is written between windows)

Somesville, ME (most picturesque spot of a library ever)

Bar Harbor, ME

Southwest Harbor, ME

Back side of library in Southwest Harbor, ME

Camden, ME (old section, entrance to modern section is right around the corner)
The other thing that I make sure to do on vacation is read. I wanted to take print books with me, so I picked the two thickest ones in my pile that I brought home from school. That way I would only need to take two books with me. We did have plenty of time to read this trip and these  books did not diappoint.

First I read Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes. I really wasn't ready to immerse myself in another fantasy series, but it had such good reviews that I decided to give it a try. It made for a great vacation read. I liked the story as told from the two different points of view. I also liked the fact that it seemed to take place long ago, but they had access to technologies that we only dream of. This seems to be a new trend, as I just finished Nimona where the characters live in a kingdom of long ago with quite advanced technology at their disposal. I know that the sequel to Tahir's book is out next month, and I can't wait to read it. My second book of the trip was the number two book in a duet. I didn't feel that I had to read Andrew Smith's sequel to Winger because I think that the book stands on its own. However, I love everything that Smith writes, and I wanted to see what he could do with the characters. I didn't think that Stand off  was as good as the first one, but I certainly enjoyed revisiting old friends. It get me engrossed and helped pass the time as our airplane sat on the tarmac for 60 minutes waiting for catering for an hour's flight. 

I love getting a chance to travel somewhere new and feel for even a brief time that I am part of this place. Now that July 4th has come and gone, I need to start thinking about the school year to come and my plans for making it another great year for the PFTSTA library.

Maybe something new for the library is right behind this door
(found on Lord's Point in Kennebunk)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I Feel Like I am Late to the Party

Kahoot was used as practice for the upcoming English III standardized test

Students were highly engaged in Kahoot

I consider myself on top of things when it comes to technology and education.Though there are many tools and tricks that I choose not to use, I try to be aware of what is new and hold it on the back burner to share with teachers in my building or eventually use it myself. Like Kahoot, I had heard about it and knew teachers that used it, but I thought that I didn't need it. Then we got a set of iPads that I could use with students in the library, and I thought that I would ditch the Activotes that came with the Promothean Board and try Kahoot. I am so glad I did because it has become a new favorite tool. I love the way that it ranks the students' answers on speed and accuracy and that the leaderboard can change from question to question so that the competition aspect of Kahoot completely engages even the most reluctant of students. 

Then there is BreakoutEDU. I first heard the word many months ago, but I had no clue what it was and didn't know if it was something that could be useful in the library. My finger must have dropped from the pulse of edtech because I truly did not understand that it could be used to teach the 21st century skills of critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, and work ethic. On top of that, you can use it for any content area and students of all ages from elementary through high school. That makes it a very cool tool. During the Louisiana Library Association conference in March, I attended a session that was presented by one of my favorite people, Susan Gauthier, the library director of East Baton Rouge Parish schools. It was a session on BreakoutEDU. I still didn't know what I was getting into, but if Susan was sharing it, then I knew that I needed to learn its capabilities. She designed the Breakout to demonstrate how to use the high schools' online resources available in her district. This was the perfect scenario to share with other librarians.

figuring out the 3D maze
During her session, I saw how everyone in the room was engaged. I also saw how teamwork was needed if the box was going to be unlocked. When I returned to school after the conference, I immediately researched how to obtain my own box. Unfortunately, spring break happened, and the PO that we sent in to purchase the box just sat for a few weeks. Finally, my box arrived just as I began the two weeks of administering AP exams. this meant that I had little time to plan a Breakout. Last week, during the final full week of school, I was able to schedule with a 6th grade math teacher my first BreakoutEDU game. I chose The Lake House because inequalities was the theme of the game and was taught to the 6th graders. It was a blast, but I learned some things to make my next sessions run more smoothly.

trying to open the directional lock
I played the game with two classes of about 30 students each. I used all the clues that were provided online, but I did add another lock box. There were four locks on the box, two locked boxes, three math problems on paper, one problem on line, and the clue for the extra box. I also threw in a red herring which I told the students could happen. I did think that it is possible to have the whole class working on the clues for one box. I would say at any given time 80 to 90 percent of the students were engaged, but there was not enough for everyone to do for the full 45 minutes. I plan to order another box, so that I can run two games at one time with 15 to 17 students each working on the game. That way it can be a competition of which team can unlock the box first. Also, I learned very quickly to remove the clues that had already been used. Students would just leave the clues on the tables and walk away whether they had solved them or not. This made it confusing for the others who would come behind them to know if the clue had been solved. I just gathered the items and put them in a bin. This worked well if I had another group coming to play a game because everything would be in one place ready to be used again. I also laminated all the paper clues so that the students could use dry erase markers to solve the problems. I even made sheets of scratch paper and put out pencils. Also, if I am going to do a math related game, I better make sure that the math equations are solvable. The teacher who created Lake House used 6 inequality problems for the directional lock. The answers offered four directions, but my students only had experience solving problems on the x axis. They did not understand how to plot their answers on the y axis. Both groups needed lots of guidance with these problems. The teacher of the class left the planning to me, but I should have checked with her first whether the students could actually solve the problems accurately. Students have to be discouraged from just trying to open the locks by guessing or looking for a pick. Also, students need to be encouraged not to give up. They would start the process of computing the answers and would quit without finishing. Needless to say, neither group made it out of the box in 45 minutes, and we did not have any time for debriefing. That is something that I would change immediately, and I believe is a very important part of the game.

success at opening a lock
School ends on May 25th, but my next Breakout is going to be for the day that I am subbing in our school''s Tinker Lab Camp. I thought that it would be a fun and different activity from the 3D printing, vinyl cutting and laser cutting that they are going to do during the rest of the week at camp. I look forward to trying it again with a game that has clues that I know will work.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Find our Finch on the Finch Robot Website

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted and asked if Bird Brain Technologies could use a picture that I took of my students' Finch robot running through a maze. The company were building a new website and wanted the picture for that site. I was flattered. My school has purchased two Finches, but I won a grant from Bird Brain Tech for the loan of twenty finches for three months. With this grant, I am able to keep one of the Finches for the library. 

Dueling Finches
The Finches are a robot with a very, very, very long cable that connects via USB to a computer. The students can use various coding languages to make the Finch do what they want. My students used Snap from UC Berkeley. You can see our Finch in action on their website here

Monday, May 16, 2016

Ahhhh, the End of the School Year is in Sight

We only have a week and a half left of the school year. How did this year fly by? This end marks my 35th year in the teaching profession and 25th as a school librarian. Really, how did that happen? Many, many moons ago when my confidence was way lower, I had not a clue if I could make it one more day much less all these years. The people who I have met, all that I have learned and all that I have given to my students over these many, many years, I would not trade with anyone. I am proud to call myself a teacher and a librarian and feel lucky to have a job that I love so much. 

Every year when April draws to a close, I find myself in stress mode with difficulty seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It is not the library that does it to me, but some of the extra hats that I wear at my school. My school only has 550 students, and unfortunately, I am needed to do some jobs that don't usually fall under the librarian's umbrella. For one, I am the school's AP coordinator. For most of the year, there is little to do. I don't mind. In March, we send out the registration forms for students to complete who plan to take one of the exams. This is an ordeal as students have to decide if they feel prepared to take the exam and can they get credit from their college for the exam. Many colleges and universities want to give their students a placement exam that they create like our state's flagship university does. Then I have to figure out how to schedule proctors for the exams, then administering each exam, and keeping all the exam material safely under lock and key and in good order. On Friday afternoon, I hit the UPS store with our completed AP tests on my way home. Boy, did that feel good.

The 39 graduates with the principal and assistant principal
Then there is graduation. That is my baby. I have been at my school since 2006, and we graduated our first class in 2009. No one stepped up to handle graduation, so I volunteered. That was a no brainer because the classroom teachers were dealing with the end of the year exams and grades. Taking over graduation was something that I could do easily. In 2009, we only had about 300 students in grades 6 through 12, and the library was a lot smaller with a lot less materials to oversee. I also coordinate the senior award night which includes writing the script for the event and making the program. I help the Val and the Sal edit their speeches. I write the script for the graduation ceremony. I make sure all the graduates are in place and ready to roll on the day of the ceremony. The strict timeline and the fact that the students don't always want to cooperate because the end is so near makes all these tasks an ordeal. 

We held our graduation this past Saturday.  As always, it was bittersweet. I am so proud of how the students grew from the naive 6th graders who entered our school seven years ago to the grown ladies and gentleman that they have have grown up to be. There are usually several students who I will miss a wee bit more than the others. That is who I want to talk about today. 

Mark is on the left and Cameron is on the right
These two boys entered Patrick Taylor as 6th graders. The last seven years have been hard work for them. They were not at the top of the class, they were not big readers so not really library kids, and they were not always friends. You can see that they are wearing the gold honor stole that show that they graduated with academic honors. One is going to school in New York, and the other will remain in town for school. Today, I heard Cameron bemoaning the fact that Mark will not be around for him to hang out with. When I mentioned that he could visit us at school, I was told that is not the same at all. I certainly understand that.

Both of these boys are extremely tech savvy. They were not afraid to try a new tool or new technology and would focus on it until they had mastered its workings. This was extremely helpful for me because I would just hand them something and ask them to figure it out and then have them explain it to me. Mark made it his mission to get the televisions around campus working with the program provided by the school board, and he researched diligently to find a tool that would allow us to manage the content on the TVs. His help with this will certainly be long lasting for the school. I often relied on his abilities for problem solving when the system went down. Both of these boys spent many hours in the school's new fabrication lab learning how to use the 3D printers, laser cutter, vinyl cutters, and the other tools. They assisted the teachers who used the lab with their classes, and their help has been immeasurable. I also enjoyed just chatting with both of them. I learned lots about technology and what was popular and what wasn't from them.

Though I will miss them terribly. I feel that they are prepared to begin making their own mark on the world that has nothing to do with Patrick Taylor Academy. That is why it so easy for me to get up every morning at 5:20AM and go to school everyday. Luckily, I have a two and a half months to recharge  before starting it all again. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Middle School Book Group Ends 2016 on a High Note

Final meeting of BRiMS, that 's me in white

Even though it was standardized testing week, I held our last regularly scheduled monthly BRiMS (Books Rule in Middle School) meeting on Wednesday during lunch. It seemed silly to cancel it since the students' lunch period was actually longer than usual last week. I liked the fact that I didn't have to cancel just because testing was being held in the morning--in some schools I would have to do so. We did have a lower turnout than usual, but I had been reminding kids about the meeting in emails, the daily school memo, and signage in the library. I do believe that the students need to learn how to take responsibility and keep track of meeting dates and times. Some forgot, some didn't read the book, and others just chose to go to the cafeteria for lunch.

This year, I finally found a rhythm with the way that I organize what we read for each monthly meeting. For half the meetings, there was an assigned book and the other meetings were set by some sort of theme be it genre or time of the year. I think that this method has worked well. There is a BRiMS page on the library website that announces ahead of time all books and themes and dates. After the meeting, I post a picture of the day and a blurb about our discussion to document the meeting. 

Let me first talk about reading around a theme. At the first meeting, students brought in a book they read over the summer and loved, and for April, they had to select a book written by a woman for National Women's History Month. The students like selecting a book that is meaningful to them as well as a book that they like reading. That is the positive. The problem when we read on a theme is that the students all read a different book. If all 30 members of book group attend, there is just not enough time for everyone to share. When one of the kids tries to tell the whole story of their selected book and goes on for 10 minutes, the other members of the group get restless. The discussion for that day needs to be lively and needs to keep moving from one person to the next. If everyone feels like they could contribute if they choose to do so, then I think it has been a good day for book group. It takes work on my part, and some discussions have been better than others, but I see it as a work in progress. 

Gummy worms were the perfect snack to eat while discussing Rump

For the four books that have been selected for the year, I try to do the selections way ahead of time. I have selected books based on a skype session with the author like I scheduled this year with Jen Calonita. I have selected books that I have bought as a set with Scholastic Dollars from my book fair. I have selected books based on students interests. It is hard to find a book that everyone likes, but we have had some great conversations about these books. Our discussions always start around the book, but I try to maneuver the topic so that all can have a say even if they have not read the book. This happened when we talked about memory after reading Sonnenblick's Curveball: the year I lost my grip. It also happened the other day when we read Shurtliff's Rump and discussed mash ups and retellings of old fairy tales. Publishers and authors often post reader's and teacher's guides that I find helpful when I lead a discussion. There was a great resource for Rump that I found on the author's website. I don't usually plan much for the discussion, and I usually have no guide. I like to ask a lot of questions, and that is the basis of the meetings. I start asking questions based on what I thought about after I read the book, and then we go from there. 

I have been leading school book groups in middle school and high school since 2003. I think that these groups offer an opportunity for kids who do not usually join clubs or organizations. I like not having too many rules, and I am always willing to go off topic if need be. It is a group that is suppose to be fun for everyone involved, even me. It is a way that I get to share my love of reading with a group who also loves to read. This is something every librarian can relate to!

Monday, April 11, 2016

More on Poetry Month 2016

In my last post, I mentioned that the high school book group wanted to create poems in the style of Mad Libs as an activity during lunch in the library. Neither the students nor myself really have time to spend creating these pages. Looking online, I found a site that allows you to input words, and then a poem is generated for you with the words that you entered. We tried it during today's Bookmarked meeting. The kids liked the outcome, and it will be fun to do on the interactive whiteboard with a large group of students. This is the link from Language is Virus blog to generate your own Mad Libs style poems

Below is the poem that the students made today: 

blue rock's blue rock

patiently i have never murder, floppily beyond
any wall, your cake have their round:
in your most evil eyebrows are things which annihilate me,
or which i cannot imagine because they are too flabulously

your crazy look gracefully will unfeast me
though i have break myself as crossbow,
you ride always nostril by nostril myself as TARDIS buffalo
(pronounceing lovely, quickly) her superfluous lie

or if your ice cream be to chomp me, i and
my fork will talk very morbidly, well,
as when the camera of this wall squat
the panda horribly everywhere stabing;

nothing which we are to backhand in this pokemon punch
the icebear of your cold weasel: whose blood
torture me with the ferret of its fez,
sniffing noun and spoon with each deduceing

(i do not incinerate what it is about you that mutilate
and eat; only something in me carry
the fetus of your cake is catlike than all TARDIS)
baby bottle, not even the sponge, has such hairy mr. spock

- Bookmarked & e.e. cummings

Create Your Own Madlib on LanguageIsAVirus.com

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April in the Library and National Poetry Month 2016

By the time April rolls around I am exhausted. We have just celebrated Teen Tech Week in the library, and I am gearing up for all the end of the year tasks that I do that don't happen to relate to the library. These tasks include preparing for the induction ceremony for the National Honor Society, completing duties as AP coordinator that take a huge amount of planning and logistics, assisting the val and sal with their speeches, and getting the script for graduation ready for the big day. The class of 2016 graduates on May 14th which is very early, and the last day for the rest of the students is May 25th. 

If I want to celebrate National Poetry Month, we need to design and plan easy to do activities that the students can handle themselves or that take little work from me. One thing that I will do is send out a poem every day of the school week via email. I am not a big fan of email blasts, but I am careful to put National Poetry Month in the subject line. That means the students and staff members know exactly what kind of email they are receiving. They can choose to read or delete as they see fit. Usually, I just put the text of the poem in the email. This year I decided to change it up a bit. On Friday, I sent out the picture that you see at the top of this blog post. One day last week, I sent out a link to make your own poems online with magnetic poetry words. I asked students to share with me the poems that they created via email. I did not get many, but you can see some of the results below.

by Lindsey, 9th grade

by Nile, 8th grade

by Tyler B., 9th grade

by Tyler H., 9th grade
I have asked the members of the high school book group to volunteer one day in a week to read a poem over the loud speaker during the morning announcements. I am not sure if that will happen because I have let them know that they need to practice. I also need to hear the poem before they perform it for the whole school. I am still waiting. 

The book group members came up with a great idea to make poetry mad libs and invite students in during lunch one day to play them. We were going to create them ourselves, but I think that we might find some online to download. I will let you know.

To end this post, I am going to share a poem that I student sent to me. She wrote it and thought that I would like it because it was poetry month. She has been reading her emails!

Unexpected Love
By Nina, 7th grade

People say that life
Is full of open doors.
I just happened to be
Curious and loved to explore.
I opened a strange door -
The one that led to you.
I fell into a wonderland,
And my heart fell, too.

I never knew that the
Stars could shine so bright.
I never thought to think
In the middle of the night.

I never knew how easy
It was to make me cry.
I never knew how easy
It was to make me smile.

Life is a mystery -
One for us to solve.
But for this case,
It was no mystery at all.

As time and life went further,
I knew that my heart grew.
I was sure of everything,
Because I fell in love with you.
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