Saturday, August 27, 2016

I'm back....and things look a little different! they say resistance is futile! As much as I have pretended I do not have a blog (read...ignored it and ll of you for so long)....I do. And now that I find myself in a new role, outside the classroom, it is time time to dust the old blog off, start fresh and reconnect with the blogging world.

So, last spring I finally finished my Masters in Library and Information Science and now I am a librarian! Eeek!!! I also accepted a position as a middle school media specialist and to say my world has been rocked is an understatement. I keep asking myself why I didn't do this sooner!

Yes, I miss my old school (mostly my colleagues and kiddos), and missed some of the craziness and stress that a new school year brings, but thats not a BAD thing is is?

And I am a librarian! Eeek! With lots of books (okay, maybe not as many as there should be, but I am fixing that) and I am surrounded my middle schoolers! I have created a MakerSpace in the library and the kids love it. And I am getting a 3-D printer...and it is all so cool. A dream come true!

So check back often and follow my exciting adventures as I turn this library into a magical space, read and review books, talk about technology and basically spread librarian pixie dust all over the internet!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Great mentor texts for teaching biographies and a sample lesson.....

I am just going to go ahead and admit it...I spend way too much time on social media. Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, even Facebook. But I truly wish we teachers could earn professional development  credits for being on social media because you know that is where we get the inspiration for our greatest lessons. Anytime I see this e-card, it always cracks me up.

Well today I was on Facebook and in my feed was a post from Penguin Books. Anyone that knows me, knows I am a sucker for books. I spend more money on books than I spend on my wardrobe! I just love me some books. Well I saw this.....and it made me just about start dancing and singing...which would have been weird because I was at Panera borrowing their free WiFi and getting some work done. I am pretty sure people would have looked at me sideways!

So it turns out these books are part of series by author Brad Meltzer and illustrator Chris Eliopoulos inspirations #OrdinaryPeopleChangeTheWorld picture book biography series.  Now I love a good biography, especially a picture book biography. So as soon as I saw these, I knew they would be perfect for my lessons in my biography unit.

I teach this genre pretty early in the year as a way to encourage my students to read more non-fiction texts and to expose them to people who have overcome challenges, make significant contributions to the world of literature, politics, sports, etc.  We re-visit biographies again in February when I do a unit on Black History. 

Even though I already have plenty of biographies in my classroom, and I even have biographies about all of these people, even Lucille Ball (she is one of my favorites!), I know my students would devour these books. 

Let me share a little about how I introduce my students to biographies. Typically I start out by asking my students what they know about biographies. There are always a few students that confuse biographies and autobiographies, so we discuss the similarities and differences between the two. I may even throw a Venn Diagram up on the Promethean board and fill it in as they share their ideas. After that, I will read a biography to the whole class. It is usually one from m David A. Adler's picture book biography series. One of my favorites is A Picure Book of Amelia Earhart. I will then introduce them to a graphic organizer so they can gather important information about the person in the biography. 

I found this one on Pinterest. You can get a FREE copy HERE on TpT.  

 I'll model how to find the important information from the book and enter into the graphic organizer. I'll even through in some irrelevant details to see if they can determine if it is important enough to include.   

Once we have done one together, I take them to the section of the class library where I keep my biographies. I have several students help me remove them form the shelf and we return to the carpet where I spread them out. I may even do a quick book talk on a few of them. Then I start "auctioning" them off to students to read and sue for their own biography. Since most are picture books, the students generally have them read that day or the next, then I have them stat completing the graphic organizer. Finally, I have them write a paragraph summarizing the book and the life of the person. 

This year I want to add a craftivity project to this unit. I saw this project on Pinterest and thought my 5th graders would love doing these.


I will definitely post here on my blog after we do this, and let you know how they turned out. 

So how do you teach biographies? I would love to here...leave me a comment. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Have you heard...Class Dojo has a great new feature.

This summer I have blogged a few times about Class Dojo. If you have not read my posts, check them out HERE and HERE.  Today Class Dojo officially launched a new version which includes an awesome new feature called "Groups" for awarding points to groups of students. Click here for more info on Groups. 

I heard about this feature a month or so ago on the Class Dojo Mentor Community Facebook page. I was so excited because I have my students working in groups a lot and this feature will allow me to award points to everyone in the groups more easily since I wont have to click on multiple students. 

Working in collaborative groups has always been tough for my 5th graders form year to year. There is always one student who wants to boss everyone else around one who is content to let others do the work and one who fusses with everyone else and just cant get along. I am hoping when I introduce Class Dojo to my new class of 5th graders in a few weeks, to encourage collaboration and teamwork right off the bat. 

One of the ways I am thinking about using this new feature is to put my class in tribes or teams to get them to compete against other teams for earning points. I currently give out prizes at the end of each 9 weeks for highest points (my 3 top students) earned, But now I may do top group for points earning too. 

Whether you are using Class Dojo or not, go over and check out this new feature. I would love to her what you think so leave me a comment below. Since I am part of the Class Dojo Mentor Community I would love to pass your comment on to the developers at Class Dojo also. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

I am back and rested and ready to roll!!

Well as you can see, I have been away for almost two weeks. Grad school research class was dominating my writing time.

So I celebrated the end of that class and turning in my research paper by heading to the beach with friends for a few days. My son is away at camp and my hubby was fine with having the house to himself for a few days.  The time away, the sun, a little wine and friends gave me a whole new look on life....

So now I am ready to take on the world. We go back to school in a few weeks and I really have to wrap my head around my TO DO list. I met with my principal yesterday and  found out I am not moving a portable this fall so I am excited about that. Plus it forced me to do some cleaning and purging that will definitely benefit me when school starts back up. 

We also talked about our big DC Field trip next spring. I have been wanting to do this trip with our fifth graders for a long time and it looks like it is really going to happen. We still have a few hurdles to jump but I am excited to be able to give them this opportunity to see our Nationals Capital. Many of our students have never been out of Greenville so this is going to be awesome!

Finally, I have been pinning ideas for next school year like crazy on Pinterest. If you are not already following me over on Pinterest...HERE  is the link.   I have quite a few school related boards and one specifically for the upcoming school year. Check them out!  I need to go look at what I have pinned and start organizing some ideas and get working on some projects before we go back. I have bot decided on a theme, learning toward not doing one. I definitely want to do these classroom handbooks  I saw over on Mrs. D's Corner for Meet the Teacher night. BTW- Mrs. D has an awesome blog. I get lots of great ideas form her and she is currently participating in a very cool book blog linky that I am thinking about doing also. Check out her blog!!! And if you want to get on the picture below to go to her TpT site and grab it (its FREEEEEEEEE!). Don;t forget to leave her some love on her TpT site to thank her!

I also need to get my laptop organized and of course I need to go some shopping. I have picked up a few things at the Dollar Tree but I need to hit Staples and Office Dept and start getting some real school supplies like Sharpies and notebooks and paper. Nothing gets me more excited than seeing these start popping up everywhere!

Well, that is all for now! Thanks for stopping by! Fee free to leave me a comment below and let me know hat is happening over at your blog!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Have you hugged your school media specialist today???

Okay, I am admit this right off the bat...I am writing this blog post for purely selfish see, soon, very soon (provided I can finish this research proposal, and survive my internship) I too can be called a school librarian! I am in the process of completing my Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) at the University of South Carolina (go Gamecocks!)

I was actually inspired to write this blog post by two things I read on social media today...the first was an NPR segment titled "When America's Librarians Went to War" about how librarians helped with soldier morale during both World Wars (who knew, certainly not me!!!). You can read the article HERE. The other was a tweet by Steven W. Anderson about a blog post he wrote titled "Why Librarians Are Awesome." You can read his post HERE (and I highly recommend that you follow him on Twitter, if you don't already! He is @web20classroom).

Both posts got me thinking about the important role librarians play in learning. Anderson make a great point by saying "The library is an extension of your classroom and the librarian can be an extension of you." It got me wondering how teachers view the media specialist in their building and his/her role in leaching students in the building. I know in my building each students goes to the library for a 40 minute block once a week. To me that never seems like enough time for the students to engage with the media specialist nor enough time for the media specialist to get to know the child, their reading profile and to help them get engaged in reading. I also know that at some schools in our district students don't even get that 40 minutes. If we are only sending our students to the library to check out books, we are truly under-utilizing one of the most valuable human resources in the building--the school media specialist/librarian.

More and more school library media specialists are being pulled in different directions. Due to budget cuts they are asked to move beyond traditional librarian roles and do more with technology both in their lessons and in the classroom. And much of that is functioning as the technology troubleshooter when things break down. In some cases, schools are phasing out the media specialist all together and instead putting a parent volunteer in the library to assist with book check out.

I write all this to get you to rally around your school media specialist. Celebrate them, appreciate them...for goodness sake..give them a hug, and let them know that you understand their importance, you appreciate all they are doing and that you value them. Invite them into your classroom. Ask them to collaborate with you on  a lesson or even a whole unit. Let your administrators know how crucial they are to the success of your students learning. 

And if you are interested in following some awesome librarians on social media, here are a few I follow on Twitter--

Here is  a great info graphic I came across on Matthew Winner's blog! This just says it all....

Saturday, July 4, 2015

What if.....

I came across this picture on Instagram the other day and it really inspired me. I have followed George Couros on Twitter for a while. I think he is a visionary and he really has some great ideas.... This is from a session he did at ISTE2015 this week. He said some amazing things about thinking locally (rather than globally like we have been told for so long!) He also said this...."Sometimes by focusing solely on the greatness outside of your school, we can sometimes belittle the efforts of those that we work with everyday." Powerful stuff!!!

I have always been one to share the good, bad and ugly of what goes on in my classroom. I think we need to share with each other if we want to learn form each other. It is so easy to go into your classroom, close the door and never let anyone know what it is that you are doing in there. I try and learn from others and if there is something I am doing that is working, I have a tendency to share it with my PLN first (on Facebook, by email, on Twitter)...and I need to do more sharing within my building.  

Sometimes we get so busy, we don't seem to have time to stop in the hallway and share with each other what went well today. We are more inclined to vent about what went wrong, or complain about all the work we have to get done.  But what if we took a minute or two before we went home for the day (or even once we got home) and shared something great that happened in our classroom that day?  And what if we took another few minutes to read all the tweets form our colleagues each evening? I would love to have the teachers in my building all tweeting with one another about what is going on in their classrooms. I think it would not only help us learn form one another, I think it would do wonders for community building in our school. We could look for ways to collaborate, share ideas, share successes and failures and encourage each other. 

I shared this with my principal this afternoon and I plan on having a conversation with her to see how we can make this happen. And here is the BIG takeaway...what if the parents of our students started following that hashtag on Twitter...imagine what they could discover about what their students are learning everyday, and what amazing educators are teaching their children!

What do you all think????

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I'm back! It has been  week, I know but this last week of my 4 week grad class has kicked my booty!

So I am excited that today is the first of July..not only because it means that the 4th is right around the corner, but also because it means that Farley over at "Oh Boy Fourth Grade" is doing her monthly Currently. She is SOOOO creative. And I love how REAL she is!. Anyway, read my Currently, and if you are interested in linking up and meeting some great new bloggers, head over to Farley's blog.

It is so quiet here....listening to pure, beautiful silence! Last night my son had 2 friends spend the night last night. They had been in the river all evening so they were tired but 3 boys as opposed to 1 boy made our house a little noisier last night and this morning. But they are headed to the lake for the day so my house is once again quiet. Good  thing because i have a lot of work to do!

We taped the Womens World Cup game last night since we were going to be at a friend's house on the river. I am loving that they beat Germany 2-0 and are going to the finals! We got home about 9:30 and I watched it with the boys. We already knew the result but it was great to see Team USA in action. My son is a bit of a soccer freak so he was going absolutely nuts each time they scored.

I am taking two grad classes this summer towards my Masters in Library and Information Science. Both classes are 4 weeks long and pretty intense. The first one ended yesterday but I still have to write and submit a final paper by July 13th for that class. It is a 15 page research proposal and I am having a hard time getting started. I actually need to have it written by the 11th because I leave for the beach on the 12th. I need to stop thinking about this paper, and just write it!

I admire all these bloggers who also create and share such amazing products on Teachers Pay Teachers. I have really been wanting to open my own tPt store for several years but since I started grad school, I really have not had the time. I have lots of ideas for fun and exciting products, just don't have time to sit down and create....but the desire is there...just need to turn it into reality. 

As I mentioned before, I am moving rooms this year. Our school has grown so much that we have added 2 portable classrooms and me and my BTF are the lucky ducks (hint of sarcasm there) who get to move into the new portables.  I have boxed up some of my stuff but have so much more to do. The portables are supposed to be delivered sometime this month so I am anxious to get in and see how much space I have, the layout and such and get going. I have dreams about once a week about this move so I am needing  to get in there and get going on it or I'll be haunted by this all summer! 

Finally, my All Star--what I am great at. This is something everyone says about me....I can be counted on. I am the first to arrive to set up and the last to leave after things are cleaned up, if you have a project, task etc. that needs to be done, I am your person! I am DEPENDABLE. I am not sure it is my all-star power, but it is something that sort of defines me. 

Well, thanks for reading....and thanks for stopping by my blog. If you want to do a "CURRENTLY" of you own (its so fun!), don't forget to head to Farley's blog. Oh, and don;t forget to red her Rule of Three and follow it forward!