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Showing posts from 2017

Find Out What Has Been Happening in the PFTSTA Library

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I have taken a short break from posting in this blog, but that does not mean that I have been negligent in the library. October and November saw many classes in all grade levels visiting the library for research for a social studies paper. Our students must submit a paper to receive honors' credit for any social studies course. I also spent $375 of library funds on new materials for our library makerspace. I will probably do a separate post about those new items, but I am definitely going to write about the new green screen. It was up in the library less than 24 hours before students started using it. I will write a post just on that. 
For now, I thought it would be fun to post a bunch of pictures so that you can see what my students have been up to. 










A School Librarian's Reading Life

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My Reading Life  I was inspired to write this blog post after seeing the infographic created by Library Girl Jennifer LaGarde called, When Adults Don't Read, Kids Lose. I remember years ago when I was an elementary school librarian talking to a fourth grade teacher who admitted that she never read. I couldn't imagine that and was horrified. Reading feeds my soul and though my reading habits have changed over the last 25 years that I have been a librarian, I still really value reading in my life. I think everyone should. How can we expect our students to value reading if we don't read? 
I have a motto for my library: All Readers Welcome. I tell my students that I chose that because unlike an English teacher who wants you to read specific books, I don't care what you read. I want you to read what brings you pleasure. It is important for these young people to find what types of reading brings them enjoyment now before they begin to believe that they don't like to rea…

Teen Read Week 2017 has Come and Gone

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Teen Read Week (TRW) happens during lunch in the school library. Since there are three lunch periods, we celebrated from 11AM to 1:10PM every day. In years previous, we had two lunches, and  it was so much easier to schedule students to help run the activities, but now it is just more difficult to manage multiple activities on one day like we did in the past. Also, with the number of students growing to 700 this year, it means that I have to simplify the plan for TRW to make it work and keep my sanity. 


The theme of TRW this year was "Unleash your Story." We put the focus on character through all our activities. We started the week with a showing of a Twilight Zone episode. This year we showed "100 Yards to the Rim." This episode is all about the main character who travels in time from 1847 to 1961. All he wants is to find a new home out west for his family. His travel through time allows him to do just that. It was a hit. We also showed an animated German short c…

Teen Read Week 2017

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If it is mid-October, then that means Teen Read Week must have arrived. We have been celebrating TRW at PFTSTA in some fashion since I became librarian there in 2006. Every year, I tap the library book groups in high school to help me plan. We take the activities we did the year before and fit them into the theme that YALSA has set for the year. There is always a video showing of an episode from the Tiwlight Zone, a guessing game, a craft activity, photo op, and guess the number of candies in a jar. It makes my life easier to have programs that work repeated every year, and the kids have something to look forward to that has generated some excitement the year before.

You can find a list of all the activities that we have planned on the library website. When the week is over, I will post pictures from TRW on the same link.

Happy Teen Read Week!

Time to Celebrate our Freedom to Read, Students Weigh In

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Every year, I conduct a lesson for the English I students to celebrate ALA's Banned Book Week. This lesson has grown over the years, and I am very proud with what the English teachers and I have done with the topic.
I will introduce the lesson using the slide presentation below. Please feel free to make a copy and adapt it for your own library. 
We want the students to take a stance by writing a well constructed paragraph using the resources that I pulled together for them as concrete evidence to support their stand. We also want this to be a real world experience. Meaning we want their responses to be published on the web for anyone to read. Last year, we had the students post their paragraph in the comment section of the BBW post on this blog. This proved to be an issue because some of the students' comments were posted immediately while others were sent to me to be moderated before posting. Students were frustrated not knowing where their paragraph had gone so some submitt…

Nancy Cavanaugh Gets Students Excited about Historical Fiction

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On Monday, September 25th, we had our first author visit of the school year. Author and former 3rd grade teacher and librarian, Nancy Cavanaugh, came to talk about her newest book, Elsie Mae has Something to Say. The book is set in 1933 in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. Nancy explained to the students how she was inspired to write the story--a television documentary. However, it was a trip that she took to the swamp 20 years ago that gave her the push to write a book about a place and time that doesn't exist anymore. 

It took her a long time to get the story right because she started her research two decades ago, and the book was published in early September 2017. At first, she was going to try and write a non-fiction picture book about the swamp because her inspiration began with a documentary and book called Okefenokee Album by Francis Harper. When that didn't work she tried her hand at a book called. Henry James and the Hog Bandits. That never got published either. When …

Need a Tech Tool for Formative Assessment?

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10 Best Tools for 5-Minute Formative Assessment
I write regularly here on this blog, but several times a year I write a post for the Whooo's Reading Blog. Every post on their blog consists of lists of apps or websites that teachers can use to assist in their teaching or aid in student learning. They have a section just for librarians, but this time around you will find my post in the edtech section. If you use other tools that could be used for assessment, please list them in the comment section below. 











Dealing with Stresses in the School Library that are out of your Control

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Running the library last year was extremely stressful for me. There were a number of factors that made it so. None of those factors were in my control, though how I handled the stress certainly was. I was dreading getting ready for the new school year a few weeks ago because I considered that little had changed for this year. I have to give a big shout out to my principal because she has figured out a way to make my job in the library a bit easier this year. I want to let you know that the year has gotten off to a very good start. 

The first problem that made teaching extremely difficult in the library occurred right at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, and it had to do with the furniture. We moved into the new building in August of 2013. We had only about 400 students then, and there were many empty classrooms. The library had been outfitted with only four rectangular tables which was certainly not enough when a class of 32 students arrived in the library for a lesson. Since …

What a New School Librarian Needs to Know Part 2

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As I reflected on my last post, I realized that I had more to say about being a new school librarian. First, I want to talk about technology. I remember many years ago (in the 90's) one of my colleagues in my district told me that she did not need to learn how to use technology in her library. The building that she was in was built around the early 1900's, and she had only one electrical outlet in her library. At that time, my library was computerized. I still had the old card catalog card system, but circulation was all done by computer. I thought she was crazy because technology was changing my world. If I wanted to prepare students for the next step after they left me, I had to embrace the technology.


If you are a techno-phobe, I don't think that you can be a good school librarian. You don't have to know all the answers, and you don't have to know everything there is to know about computers and programs. You do have to be a risk taker and willing to try technol…

What a New School Librarian Needs to Know

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If you are embarking on your first job as a school librarian, I can give you some tips based on my over 25 years in the biz having served students in grades kindergarten through 12th. This year I have had several newbies approach me for assistance. I love serving as a mentor, but just like you as a newbie, I have lots to do to prepare for a new school year. So first piece of advice, a librarian's job never ends. That means you should not sweat, just breathe, and try to take one day at a time. There is always something to be done in a library. I mean that literally. This will be my twelfth year at Patrick Taylor, but that doesn't mean that I get to sit back and let the library carry on as it did last year. I have new ideas, new projects, new students, new teachers, and every year I want to see improvement in my library program. 
Second bit of advice--Take the time to get to know your collection. When I moved from the elementary setting to middle and high, I had lots of books to…