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Showing posts from 2015

Happy Holidays from BRiMS and Bookmarked

I run two book groups at Patrick Taylor. My high school book group, Bookmarked, was created in the fall of 2007 which was my second year as librarian at the school. The students really wanted a library club, but the square footage of the library was so small that I could not imagine how any students could do any actual library work. Instead I created a book discussion group. Not only did we meet to talk books, but I tapped these students to help me with fundraisers and special programming like Teen Read Week. Helping me with these special activities seemed to appease the members. I waited until February of 2009 to institute a book discussion group for my middle school students called BRiMS, or Books Rule in Middle School. Both of the groups meet during lunch, and this year, the school added a third lunch. Now BRiMS is made up of only 6th and 7th graders. Bookmarked has 8th-12th grade students. This has actually worked well because in 2014 and 2015, Bookmarked lost a lot of members wh…

Sharing Resources for a Conference Presentation

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When I go to a conference, I hate when someone hands me a sheet of paper with a list of links. What do I do with that paper? Usually, during the presentation, I will mark the sites on the paper that might be useful to me, my teachers, or my students. Then I have to bring the sheet of paper back home or to school and sit and type out all the URLs so that I can see if the sites really do interest me as something that I want to save. If I like what I see, then I save them in Diigo  and add lots of tags to each site so that I can find them again  at a later date. This is time consuming, and I have found that it may take me months to find the time to sit and go through all the websites. What a waste of time for me. I appreciate when you walk in to a conference session and are handed a paper or card with a link or QR code that points you to a website with all the resources that the presenter will discuss during their talk. I can open the resource site on my iPad during the session and deci…

December Holiday Decorating in a Public School

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I work in southern Louisiana where many people working in public schools don't understand the separation of church and state. Thirty years ago I remember being horrified when the principal read a Christian prayer over the intercom right before the holidays. I didn't say anything because I was young and was not going to antagonize my principal, but I did not think that it was appropriate. Many of the public schools where I have worked have had Christmas trees gracing the halls. Those were usually decorated with ornaments created by the students. The halls of many of these schools had other Christmas style decorations, too.





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I would compensate by bringing in a menorah for the library. I would also have dreidels available with instructions on how to play. The students loved playing the game even if they didn't win any chocolate.
Finally, I decided that having a few Chanukah symbols didn't really compensate, and I never brought anything in repre…

Finding Time to Manage the School Library

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When I was in library school, I had to take a course called school library management. It was a very straight forward course in terms of what school library management actually meant. What they didn't teach us was how to juggle getting all the management tasks done in between teaching classes, fielding research questions, readers' advisory, running clubs, dealing with technology issues, helping with whatever problem walked through the door, etc. 

I have a sign in front of the circulation desk that encourages all who enter to interrupt me. Yes, I really do mean for the students, teachers, administrators, staff, and parents who walk through the doors to talk to me and ask me for help or assistance. That is a big part of my job--to be a support to all members of the school community. Also, a part of my job is to deal with all library resources including print and electronic materials as well as hardware that gets checked in and out of the library. This means that often I am in t…

Channeling Hogwarts during Homecoming Week

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I am not that big on wearing costumes. Okay, you need to understand that I am a New Orleans native, and I grew up wearing costumes for Mardi Gras. Half of the closet in my guest bedroom is devoted to costumes. I just am not interested anymore in getting into uncomfortable and unbecoming attire. For homecoming week this year, the students developed a theme of the day and wore clothes that fit the theme. Teachers were encouraged to join in the fun. I skipped all but Friday. On Friday, students were asked to select a favorite character from a book, movie, or tv show. As librarian, I felt that the gauntlet was thrown, and I needed to become a character from one of my favorite series for the day. 

I dug through my closet and found that Professor Trewlawney and I could work together. The outfit is one that is in my closet, not the costume closet, but it was the wig that made the whole ensemble work. I had round glasses to wear over my real ones that also helped make the transformation. I w…

The Book Fair is Coming!!

Some students and I worked together to create a short video promoting some of the books that we will have at next week's book fair. It was fun and very easy to put together. I made the pictures in PowerPoint, and then I downloaded them individually in a jpeg format. That way the pictures were easy to add to the video. I used Windows Live MovieMaker to piece together the pictures and the video clips. I was able to edit the clips within MovieMaker, too. I am happy with the four and a half minute outcome. I have asked the middle school study hall teachers to show the video on Friday.

In the video you will hear the students talk about A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen, This Side of Home by Renee Watson, and The Zodiac Legacy by Stan Lee. 


Book Fair 2015 Student Book Talks from Elizabeth Kahn on Vimeo.

Bookmarked and Geoff Herbach Share Some Laughs

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On Monday, October 26th, the members of Bookmarked were treated to a skype visit with author Geoff Herbach. He, like Jen Calonita, is published by Sourcebooks. I took advantage of the publisher's offer of free skype visits for libraries and classrooms as long as you purchase some of the authors' books. I chose Geoff Herbach for the high school book group because we seem to have so many female authors at school. Though the group is made up of a majority of girls, I figured all of the students would enjoy talking to Geoff. I was right. 


He speaks without a filter, and the students loved his humor and willingness to address anything that they threw at him. Since he began the skype visit with a story about his son and puberty, one of the older girls asked him if he had difficulties during his own puberty. He told them that being a teenager was not easy for him. All agreed that it is not easy for anyone. 

Another student asked him what was up with two of his books: Fat Boy vs. the …

Highlights for Teen READ Week 2015

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When the 2015-16 school year opened, PFTSTA had a growth spurt of 100 more students than last year. These additional students meant that the cafeteria could no longer fit the students in two lunch periods. Now there are three separate lunches. The library opens for the 6th and 7th graders lunch period at 11:00 and concludes at 1:07 when the 8th graders report to fourth period. I wasn't sure how this would play out for Teen READ Week (TRW) because the members of the high school book group always ran the events held during both lunches. The high school students are in third period when the little ones have their lunch. I decided that it was important for me to simplify this year, and in the end, I had helpers from both the middle school book group and the high school book group.It worked out that I did have the extra pairs of hands that I sorely needed. Also, I lost  a day of celebration when the students had no school on Monday due to the day of professional development and parent…

Presentation on the Research Process for Middle and High School Students

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Early this past week, one of our science teachers, who was suffering with a terrible case of laryngitis, talked to me about a presentation that she was suppose to make to the faculty at a local Catholic school on Monday, the 19th. She initially agreed because she thought that she was just talking to the science department about preparing students for the engineering and science fair, but then they asked her to talk to the whole faculty about the research process. She knew that I would be a better fit than she would for that. Also, she really did not have a voice to be able to speak to an entire faculty. With her help, I was able to put together this presentation in two days. That is a record for me because I always agonize over how to organize the information and what exactly needs to be included. When you go through the slides, you will find that I have inserted live links on the slides with screenshots, so you can see the actual resources that I created for the students. I have eve…

Snapshot of PFTSTA Library in Animoto

PFTSTA holds an open house for prospective students every fall. I like to have a special video running in the library for this event. 
I use the same background every year. I just update the pictures and make sure that all students in the pictures are still attending PFTSTA. I created a PowerPoint with the background, text and images. When I select save as, I save the slides all at once as jpeg images. PowerPoint automatically downloads all the pictures into one file folder. That means it only takes a few clicks to upload the pictures into Animoto to create the videos. It is easy to get an educator account in Animoto to make videos that are longer than 90 seconds. As an educator you can create student accounts under your teacher account so the students can make longer videos, also. With the educator account, users won't get the Animoto watermark on each picture, just a logo at the end of the video. So easy and fast to do. I like the results.

Teen Read Week 2015 is Around the Corner

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You too can TRAVEL to unknown lands through books Teen Read Week October 20th—23th
1. Annual Library Book Mark Contest: Two winners, one from middle school and one from high school, will receive a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card, and their bookmark reproduced to give away to the PFTSTA community. You can visit the library for a hard copy or open here:
http://bit.ly/bookmarkcontest2015 to print out from the web. All bookmarks are due in the library by Wednesday, October 29th at 2:30PM. 

2. Now showing in your library: Visit the common area outside the library at lunch on Tuesday the 20th to watch “Elegy,” an episode of the television show TheTwilight Zone. In this episode, three astronauts find that their rocket has landed on a very strange but Earth-like planet. A treat will be served.
3. Travel Guessing Game: On Wednesday the 21st and Friday the 23rd during Teen Read Week, you can visit the library to get a clue about a character from a book or movie who has traveled far from home. If you …

Where Reading and the Web Collide

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This past Saturday I traveled to Lafayette, LA to present at the first ever LASL Fall Summit. In the past, the Louisiana school librarians had a mid-winter conference. It was always scheduled in late January or February every other year, but even in Louisiana, the weather could get in the way during the winter. Fog and ice could make it difficult for people to travel the state to attend a one day conference. In 2014, I got half-way to Lafayette and had to turn around because the fog made it impossible to cross the Atchafalaya Basin that lay between me and my destination. 
My presentation was entitled, "Where Reading and the Web Collide." My focus was to give websites and apps that librarians, teachers, parents, and students could use to enhance the reading experience. Even though I only serve students in grades 6th-12th, I tailored this talk to K-12 because there are always more elementary librarians at these conferences than those who serve older kids. Many of the sites co…

BRiMS Shares Lunchtime with Author, Jen Calonita

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Early this past summer, I received an email from Sourcebooks publishers explaining a new skype with an author program that the publisher had just started. The thirty minute skype visits would be free as long as you ordered a certain number of books written by that author. I think that I had to spend $50 on books for a group of 30 to attend the skype, and you can spend less if the group is smaller.They have some guidelines set that are easy to meet. I have done many author skypes over the years and never had to pay for them. Since I wanted the students to read the books of these authors anyway, I figured that purchasing a set of books from the publisher at a discount was really a good deal. I immediately set up a skype for the middle school book group, and once done, I selected an author for the high school book group also. The list of authors is so long that I am sure you can find one that fits the age group that you teach. 


On the last Wednesday of every month the 6th and 7th grade …

Need this Blog to Jog my Memory and Poor Bandwidth

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As I was getting ready to plan for the teaching of the research process to our 6th grade students, I remembered that I had changed my game plan last year. Since my brain has been aging, it is harder for me to know what I did last week much less how I taught something last year. I did remember that I had written a detailed account of what I did with this lesson on this blog. So I conducted a search to find the post, and you can read about it here. By reading my blog entry from last year, I saw that we had deconstructed the research process to start with the bibliography. The teachers and I decided to get that out of the way first.
Before the day of the lesson, I reviewed my slide show that you can see below. I did some editing and took out tasks that I thought weren't necessary and added some slides at the end to be more specific about explaining how to create a word document out of the bibliography that was created in Easy.b…

Banned Book Week: Students Make Comments Pro & Con Censorship

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This blog post is being designed as a lesson for the English I students at PFTSTA. The teachers and I have collaborated on an activity to celebrate Banned Book Week (BBW). Many times in the past during BBW, I have invited the 8th graders into the library to discuss the banning and challenging of books in schools and libraries. I usually show some videos and share books owned by our library that have been banned or challenged somewhere in the US. This activity always spurs great discussion among the students and teachers. This year we wanted the students to create a written response to the presentation. We thought there was a real world connection if we had the students post their opinion online as a comment to someone writing about censorship in schools. The teachers and I want the students to learn how to compose a well thought out comment that is supported by evidence and concrete details. How more real world could it be than having the students comment directly on their librarian&…

Why the Louisiana Teacher Evaluation System is Flawed

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For about four years, the state of Louisiana has been using a system called Compass for the annual teacher evaluations.It is composed of three parts. First, the teacher must write a professional growth plan and submit it. I have been writing one of these plans ever since I began teaching in the public school system, so that is nothing new. I always set some new goals for myself each school year anyway, and I really don't mind putting that down in writing. See below for an example. 

The second part of the evaluation is the observation. I am suppose to conference with my principal about a lesson that I am going to be teaching, and then she observes it. The administrator must make two formal observations a year. I have always done very well on these observations. You know, I should have learned something about the best way to present material to students with 35 years of teaching under my belt. You can find the rubric here that the principal uses when she makes an observation of a lib…