On planning

Of all the days of the year, I probably look forward to January 1 the most. I remember being sort of freaked out as a kid about the end of the year – “This is the last day it will ever be 1978!” but for some reason, I didn’t fret about end-of-times scenarios come January. I love to do lists, planners, and calendars, and resolutions? I’m all about those! (I had some success last year – I’m ten pounds lighter than I was last year at this time.)

From Flickr, used under Creative Commons license: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyjcase/2381294958/

From Flickr, used under Creative Commons license: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyjcase/2381294958/

So, yes, I have had successes – and failures – in the past, and I know the old adage is true – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So with that said, here it is: Resolutions, Version 2.0.13!

Lose 30 pounds – I’ll continue what I did last summer: the Shangri-la diet (crazy but it absolutely works), exercising six days a week (especially now that I picked up an elliptical machine at Goodwill for $10!), biking and walking in the spring (let’s not be crazy – that ain’t happening until the snow is gone), no caffeine, and fast food rarely (once a month max).

Back in my summer biking days

Back in my summer biking days

Educate myself – I’ll continue taking Coursera classes – right now I’m taking Think Again, How to Reason and Argue with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong from Duke University (it’s not too late to join and catch up, so I’m trying to get Rob to sign up so I can say my husband and I are taking a class on arguing). I’m also signed up for The Camera Never Lies (the University of London!) which is about photojournalism, and no kidding, Introduction to Guitar (Berklee College of Music – where my favorite singers, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings attended – maybe we’ll go to a class reunion together, LOL). Find lots more classes – over 200! – at Coursera.org. (With most Coursera classes, if you do well enough, you can get a certificate stating you completed the work. One of those babies is going in my portfolio!) I’m also going to start crafting again – I’ve done some sewing and basketry in the past, and would like to make time for that again. And of course, reading! I’m going to make a point of reading 12 children’s and 12 adult novels this year, and keep track of those books. Doing an end-of-year list is difficult when my Shelfari account is so spotty.

Always the reader!

Always the reader!

Free(r) from debt – I know we can’t get completely out of debt this next year – not with over $40,000 in student loans to pay off! But after living in Music City for a decade, we’re well versed in the ideas of Nashville-based Financial Peace University. Despite what Dave said, going back to school – even with those student loans – wasn’t optional. It had to be done. But we can definitely do his “debt snowball” and get some bills paid off this year.

A proud day (December 2009)

A proud day (December 2009)

There’s a lot of other things I want to do – yoga, home more organized (you should see my office! – or maybe not), recycle. I’m still figuring all that out. I can look back on 2012 proudly – a post for another day, perhaps. But for now, I’m excited about what 2013 will bring!

(The best thing about New Year’s? It’s the one holiday that I’ve created traditions with my family where none really existed before for me – black eyed peas and greens, playing Risk with my sons.). Happy New Year to you!

Flatter Iowa

No, not fatter Iowa.  This is not a post about the new nutrition guidelines at state schools!  (Which I think are fantastic, by the way.)  You know, The World is Flat and all that . . . 

I was named to Governor Brandstad’s STEM Advisory Council for the North Central Region.  I applied on a whim, really.  I’d gotten an email from the IASL encouraging school librarians to apply, so I did.  I said that as a K-12 teacher librarian, I have the opportunity to work with all students and staff in a district.  I talked about the grant that I helped spearhead with which we are this year studying the Manson Impact Crater using GIS technology.  (Helped is the operative word.  I was in wayyyyy over my head!)  But most importantly, I said that I’m a mother of five children, from 8th grade to a senior in college, and I know the importance of challenging our children academically in school.

The part I didn’t say was that I thought I had something to add because I’m not a scientist.  I barely based Advanced Biology in high school, I shouldn’t have passed Astronomy in college.  (I dropped it because I was getting 50% on the tests and still passing with a C – the Bell Curve – and I said to myself, “That ain’t right.” Not an English major either!)  I took Astronomy again years later with one of my children who needed challenge.  The dean had to approve her taking it since she was in 8th grade, and she told me, “Now, you know, your daughter has to do her own work.”  HA HA HA.  As if B. was the one she needed to worry about!!!  (Okay, okay.  I did my own work, but got some liberal tutoring from my 13 year old daughter.)

I have a degree in Elementary Education, and one of my endorsements is in TAG.  In my ed classes, I often heard this sentiment:  “I’ll have the gifted kids help those who struggle in the subject.”  At first, I tried to be nice, but eventually, all my classmates hated me for saying over and over again:  It’s not their job to teach.  What are you doing to challenge the gifted kids???  

Which brings me back to STEM.  What are we doing to challenge our brightest kids in science, in technology, in engineering, in math – especially in our rural schools?  I don’t think we’re doing enough.  We do have to encourage all students in STEM, but I believe, most importantly, appropriate challenge for our best and brightest.  

So at our meeting today, we heard about some great opportunities that our regional council will be funding.  There was a bit of confusion (deadlines for applications is Friday – as in the day after tomorrow), but even so, this is a great opportunity for Iowa students.  One fellow council member questioned how are we going to help all students – I mean, this is great, she said, but we’re still not helping very many students.  She’s right.  But I do think it’s a great start.

What are you doing to challenge our rural students in STEM? you may ask.  Well, I did help with our successful grant as I said before.  I am the site coordinator for two students taking AP Chemistry, a first for our school.  And at the elementary, I’m starting a Technology Club, with our first meeting on Friday.  I don’t know yet what we’ll do, but I know where to turn for some ideas!

Recent happenings

So much has been going on in the library!  I was waiting to post until I had pictures to show you, but what with just moving, I can’t find the cord to transfer photos from my camera to the computer.  Well, just as well, then you will be able to see the complete transformation from before to after.  It’s still in the process of changing right now.  My self-imposed deadline to be all done (moving books back into the library space, posters up, furniture in, and now some other things I’m excited about) is August 1 for registration.  We’ll see if I meet that!

When I do post the pictures, I will also share some things I’ve learned in this project.  I will say that since I’m a K-12 librarian, the only librarian in the district, it’s great to have someone to help with an eye toward design of the library.  I found that person at the local furniture store here in town.  It’s great to have someone who knows the space, knows the people, and can see the possibilities.  Oh, also, make sure when you begin to have a tape measure!  Of course we have several at home, but since I live 20 miles from the school, when I forget it, I can’t just pop back home and get it.  I ended up having to change my entire floor plan because my measurements (done with – ahem – a ruler) weren’t accurate and I needed more space for fiction books than I thought, so the fiction is where I thought the nonfiction would be.  (Plus, I don’t put books across the full length of a bookshelf.  I give a little room at the end so I can stand a book up vertically to feature it.)  But I think it’s better this way, anyway!  

I got the go-ahead on Follett Shelf, an ebook program that will work with the students’ laptops.  Very exciting!  I was always apprehensive about using Nooks or Kindles because that’s an additional device to break.  I have to admit, my superintendent had the vision of this type of ebook program way before I did.  Mr. Egli, are you a closet librarian?  (Apparently I already heard about Follett Shelf at the AEA meeting I went to this spring.  I think that Vgotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development applies here – I just wasn’t ready to learn about that yet.)

I met with the new TAG teacher and am very excited about that.  It is so nice to have someone who speaks my language – defensible differentiation, autonomous learner, Henry Passow’s could-would-should test – and we get to teach a class together!  (My son isn’t too excited about that, as he is in the class.)  It’s a class for any high school student, and we’re going to really be able to make it our own.  It’s basically a research class, but also learning about your own learning style, study skills, expanding the walls of the school to learn, and really, being responsible for your learning.  All those things that we think schooling should be – that’s what we’re going to do. 

Oh!  And gutter shelves!  Have you heard of these?  They’re going in!  I anticipate two section of them, about 48 feet total.  I’d love to put them in at the elementary, too.  We’ll see.

I did a Titlewise collection analysis.  The previous librarian did a fantastic job of weeding – two years ago, the average age of the collection was 1973!  But now it’s a much more respectable 1993.  I’m going to have to do some more weeding – I’m adding a lot of books to the collection, and there are still more books that probably should go. 

Loving life!

Photo by What What, with Creative Commons rights.

Latest goings-on

I’m in the middle of my craziest summer.  We sold a house, bought a house, and moved, and then of course decided the next week would be a good time to go on a week-long trip to our nation’s capital.  That was also the week I started my final three courses for my MLIS degree, and now this week is my comps week, when I write 4 big essay questions so I can graduate.  DH had another load to grab from our old homestead (his shop has taken at least 6 loads with a big trailer plus a full pickup) and this time brought the farm dogs.  We are out in the country still, but not in the boonies anymore – we have neighbors across the street.  So the dogs are forced inside by mean-old-me, thus, I’m up blogging at 12:30 a.m.  Oh and did I mention I start my new job in 15 days?

I did find time to go to a “discuss books group” – not a book discussion group – which was lots of fun.  We all talked about some of the books we’ve been reading lately.  One group member had a very long list of books that she’s read since last month.  Very motivational!  I thought of a few books to mention – The Caretaker of Lorne Field, e.g. – but I am going to write the ones down and do better.  Once I get done with my classes in July, I’ll definitely have more time to read for pleasure.  Even with my new job – but of course I need to model reading, don’t I?

My most recent book:  

I’d never read Lupica before, but I hear it’s a big change from his normal sports fare.  It was hard to put down, but I’m disappointed in this the same way as I was with The Ghost and the Goth – the book was so clearly made to be the start of a series.  What is so wrong with writing one book and leaving it at that?  I know, I know, as a writer, why wouldn’t you want to milk that cash cow?  But as a reader, just once, I’d like to read a new book that has a nice tied-up ending.  (Carl Hiaasen does this for me, and I know he’ll write another book!  Just because he’s done with a character doesn’t mean I’m done with him as a writer.)

Another one down!

I don’t know how long I’ve been aware of this National Endowment for the Humanities list – probably fifteen years? – and I’ve been slowly working on getting all of these read.  Even if I read nothing else, I doubt I’d be done with it by now.  Well, that’s an exaggeration, I probably would have been.  Dang you, John Grisham!  Anyway, I’ve been making very good progress on the K-3 list that I wanted to post here.  Of course, many are pictures books – just wait until I get to the high school list! – but it’s still good.  
just finished Alice in Wonderland which was a very unusual book.  So much of what is in it is in the public consciousness – the rabbit hole, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts – but here it all is in one pretty short story.  I’m not sure I like it, really, but I know I love this video of it, from the British Film Institute, a 1903 short film of the story.  How amazing to think that the only one still alive here is probably the trees.

Some of these books I’ve probably read – Aesop’s Fables! – but I haven’t marked it just to be sure.  A couple I’ll have to get via inter-library loan.  And I know it’s really weird I haven’t read Curious George – he’s super popular at my library, but my kids were never interested so I haven’t read it yet.  Next on my list to read is Mouse and the Motorcycle, which will probably come back to me; I bet I read it as a child – I only mark it if I remember reading the book.  My absolute favorite here would be Millions of Cats.  What’s yours?
The K-3 list, with what I have left to read highlighted:
Aardema, Verna. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.
Aesop. Fables.
Allard, Harry. Miss Nelson Is Missing!
Atwater, Richard and Florence. Mr. Popper’s Penguins.
Bemelmans, Ludwig. Madeline.
Brown, Marcia. Stone Soup.
Brown, Margaret Wise. Goodnight Moon.
Brunhoff, Jean de. The Story of Babar.
Burton, Virginia Lee. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.
Carle, Eric. The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Cleary, Beverly. The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
Collodi, Carlo. Adventures of Pinocchio.
Crews, Donald. Freight Train.
Daugherty, James. Andy and the Lion.
dePaola, Tomie. Strega Nona.
Duvoisin, Roger. Petunia.
Flack, Marjorie. The Angus series.
Freeman, Don. Corduroy.
Fritz, Jean. The Cabin Faced West.
Gag, Wanda. Millions of Cats.
Galdone, Paul. The Three Little Pigs.

Grahame, Kenneth. The Reluctant Dragon.
Gramatky, Hardie. Little Toot.
Hoban, Russell. Bedtime for Frances.
Johnson, Crockett. Harold and the Purple Crayon.
Keats, Ezra Jack. The Snowy Day
Kraus, Robert. Leo the Late Bloomer.
Krauss, Ruth. The Carrot Seed.
Leaf, Munro. The Story of Ferdinand.

Lear, Edward. A Book of Nonsense.
Lionni, Leo. Frederick.
Lobel, Arnold. Frog and Toad Are Friends.
Lopshire, Robert. Put Me in the Zoo.
Marshall, James. George and Martha.

McCloskey, Robert. Make Way for Ducklings.
McDermott, Gerald. Anansi the Spider.

Merrill, Jean. The Pushcart War.
Milne, A.A. Winnie-the-Pooh.
Minarik, Else Holmelund. Little Bear.
Parish, Peggy. Amelia Bedelia.
Piper, Watty. The Little Engine That Could.
Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Rey, H.A. Curious George.
Selden, George. The Cricket in Times Square.
Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are.
Seuss, Dr. The Cat in the Hat.

—. Green Eggs and Ham.
Slobodkina, Esphyr. Caps for Sale.
Steig, William. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. A Child’s Garden of Verses.
Taylor, Sydney. All-of-a-Kind Family.
Thurber, James. Many Moons.
Udry, Janice May. A Tree is Nice.
Van Allsburg, Chris. The Garden of Abdul Gasazi.
Viorst, Judith. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Ward, Lynd. The Biggest Bear.
White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web.
Yashima, Taro. Crow Boy.

Zion, Gene. Harry the Dirty Dog.
Zolotow, Charlotte. William’s Doll


Hi all!  If you found me because I sent you an email begging you to come see my new blog or you’ve happened upon it some other way, welcome.  By way of introduction, I work as a library assistant at a large city public library (well, large for Iowa) and love, love, LURVE my job.  I’ve only worked a couple of weeks so I’m still learning the ropes, but I am scheduled for my first library storytime on November 18.  Exciting!  
I’m in graduate school for library and information science and will graduate next December (2011).  I graduated last December from college with a degree in elementary education with the plan of being a librarian.  I love working with children and will earn a K-12 teacher-librarian endorsement, too, but if I stay in public library service, I’d be thrilled too.  (Of course, right now I’m a part-time employee – I do hope to eventually be full time!)  
Here’s my Shelfari account where I keep track of books I’m reading.  I just finished John Grisham’s latest thriller last night, and now I’m reading some books for a big project in my Information Technology class (Disrupting Class:  How Disruptive Innovation will Change the Way the World Learns by Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, and Curtis Johnson and The World is Open:  How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education by Curtis Bonk).  My topic is using technology in the classroom, though I was told that was too big of a topic, so I might focus on using social media in the classroom.  I might need to read some other books, though.  If you have any ideas, please suggest!
Anywho, thanks for stopping by and I hope to post at least a couple days a week.  You can see my online porfolio site here, with separate teaching and library portfolios.  And here’s something cool I did for my college class, about using basketry in the classroom.  What do you think?