Nonfiction Monday

This has been around for awhile – published in 2006 – but Pick Me Up:  Stuff You Need to Know has aged really well.  It’s published by Dorling Kindersley but isn’t in their regular tall and thin format.  This one is shorter and thicker – 300+ pages – and jam packed of yes, things you need to know.  The book is worth its price simply for the graphics – most pages are done as infographics.  Taken together it would give me a headache, but each individual page spread is a really good example of what 21st-century designers (and that’s everyone online) should aspire to.  I need to think about revamping my online professional portfolio with these design tips in mind . . . 
But the information here is what children will be interested in, and there’s a lot to it.  From “Why there’s nothing funny about your pee and poop,” (p. 134-135) to “Spot the odd one out” (p. 278-279), kids will enjoy this as much as the Guinness Book and learn something worthwhile while they’re at it.
This title is definitely on my “books my school library needs” list (starting in 67 days!).  That and some Captain Underpants, of course.  ūüôā


I learned a lot at the 1:1 conference I went to this week and have finally had the chance to play around with some of the Web 2.0 technologies I heard about. One that is a lot of fun is, which at first blush looks like a grown-up version of playing with paper dolls. But from the home page, click on Create, then on the box to the right, scroll down and under Embellishments, click on Text. Then have at it! It appears to me that you have to do a screenshot to save what you’ve done.
I know this isn’t hugely creative – give me some time – but here’s what I came up with for a “calling card”:

Things that stay with me

It’s been a week since the IASL meeting, and I thought I’d write up just a few things that have stayed with me:
  • Consider what are the “ambulance moments” at your school and put your focus there – ours might be going 1:1 and how to really use the laptops so they aren’t just big flash drives
  • We sometimes give credit to students when really, it should go to a computer programmer (Glogster) – strip it down and find what is the actual content and assess based on that
  • Librarians are integral to Common Core implementation with its focus on critical thinking and reading and understanding difficult texts
1:1 conference is coming up this week and there are so many great programs, I have no idea how to choose! 
On Saturday, I finished two more classes toward my MLIS, Cataloging and Collections.  Frankly, not much in Cataloging will stay with me, other than perhaps it’s really, really good if you can get the MARC records when you purchase books so you don’t have to fuss with with it.  Oh and also that I’m really glad I’m not a cataloger!  But Collections was fantastic, and there’s a lot that I’m taking away from that class:
  • Teach on your feet, not your knees
  • Your collection – be it crap that’s outdated, books that are falling apart, or that it’s limited to simple books that don’t challenge students’ thinking – sends a message to your students about what you believe they deserve – Consider the message you’re sending!
  • Diversity in the collection is so important – my professor told a story about a year her school got new textbooks, and on the first day, one little girl cut out a picture in the textbook.  She was asked why she did that, and she said it was the first time she’d seen a person who looked like her (she was black) in a book, and she wanted to take it home to show her mom.  It matters, and even if it’s one student or none, it’s a bigger world out there.  We owe it to our students to prepare them for it, including embracing a diverse collection.
Additionally, I need to figure out a good method of keeping all these types of things that I want to remember forever.  This noggin ain’t what it used to be – I need a system!
Have a great week.

Nonfiction Monday

Linda Sue Park is one of my favorite authors.  I read A Single Shard with a elementary school book discussion group the year it won a Newbery Medal, and shared Project Mulberry with many a reader at the public library.  So when I saw that she has a poetry book, I had to check it out:

I know this has been out for awhile (published in 2007), but for me, 811.54 just isn’t on my radar. ¬†I think I saw this on the recently returned shelf at my library. ¬†But it goes to show that you have to get out of your comfort zone (and Dewey numbers) once in awhile.
These poems are in the form of sijo, a traditional form of Korean poetry, akin to the Japanese haiku. ¬†It has either a three- or six-line format (six is easier for some writers). ¬†If it’s a 3 line poem, each line contains 14-16 syllables; six-line poems have 7-8 syllables. ¬†The book includes tips on how to write sijo – I think this would be a fun diversion from the typical haiku tried in elementary school.
My favorite of the twenty or so sijo here is this one:
Fro this meal, people like what they like, the same every morning.
Toast and coffee.  Bagel and juice.  Cornflakes and milk in a white bowl.
Or – warm, soft, and delicious – a few extra minutes in bed.
That’s my type of breakfast! ¬†

Shushing Librarian?

One of my favorite Christmas gifts ever is proudly on my desk:

That’s my librarian action figure, modeled after Seattle librarian, Nancy Pearl.  It’s silly, I know, but I love it.  
However, I don’t intend to be a shushing librarian.  Oh, I know going to library time shouldn’t be like going to P.E. or recess.  But I do believe the library needs to be a vibrant, active place – a real learning commons.
I mean, why do we think libraries need to be quiet?  I understand why an academic library should be that way – people are there studying.  But that isn’t what happens in a school library, certainly not at the elementary level.  Why should it be more quiet than a typical classroom?
So why do we hold on to so strongly to this model?  I recently substitute taught in two schools with fantastic teachers and kids who love the library.  Whenever one of my classes are scheduled to go to library, I tag along.  The collections in both these school libraries were fantastic, even if the physical facilities were older.  The librarian wasn’t in either school that day (serving several elementary schools) but a full-time paraprofessional was there.  The similarities stopped there, however.
One school had what I can only call a “shushing librarian.”  (I know, I know, a paraprofessional isn’t officially a librarian, but certainly in the minds of the students, she is.)  Students were repeatedly reminded to use their “library voices” and to sit at desks and quietly read the books they had checked out.  Again and again and again.
The other school painted a completely different picture.  The library associate had the projector unit going with a webcam of a mother eagle and her eggs, ready to hatch.  Students were reminded of library procedures (a new student joined the class that day) and encouraged to find a book and then to sit down and read.  Or, if they felt like it, they could work together on a 500-piece puzzle that is set up in the back of the library.  Not once were students told to use “library voices” – they weren’t loud, but they were able to comfortably communicate with each other.  She did a great job of making the library a welcoming and fun place to be.

Which library would you want to visit?